October 28, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Penn State safety Ryan Keiser was recovering in a hospital on Tuesday after having surgery to repair a bowel injury suffered when he fractured a rib in practice last week.

Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said Tuesday that Keiser's condition was ''improving'' at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where university athletes are taken for treatment on serious injuries.

Franklin said surgery became necessary for the 23-year-old after it was determined he also suffered a ''small bowel injury.''

Keiser was examined initially at a hospital in State College, then transferred to the other facility in Hershey, Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson said. Nelson said he didn't know when the bowel injury was diagnosed or when the surgery was performed.

Franklin said Keiser's family has the team's complete support and that its trainers and doctors have been in constant contact with the athlete.

Keiser is a special teams captain but won't play again. But Franklin said he would welcome Keiser's presence in the program in a role yet to be determined.

Keiser received a degree in kinesiology in August and is the team's only married player.

''I've already talked to Ryan about what his interests are,'' Franklin said. ''I think so highly of him I've talked about trying to get him to work for us in some kind of role or capacity, whether it's in player development or things like that. I just think he's one of those kids that everybody in our program respects.''

Franklin said Keiser is a special young man who makes him want to be a better person and coach.

''He's in our prayers and his family is in our prayers and we can't get him back here soon enough,'' Franklin said.

Keiser made 11 career starts, including six this season, and had 25 tackles and one interception.

His position against Ohio State last Saturday was filled by freshman Marcus Allen, who made 11 tackles. Punter Chris Gulla replaced Keiser as holder for placekicker Sam Ficken.

NOTES: Penn State (4-3, 1-3 Big Ten) will host new Big Ten member Maryland (5-3, 2-2) on Saturday. Penn State has a 35-1-1 advantage in the series against the Terps but the two teams haven't played since 1993. Franklin was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Maryland from 2008-10 and said he knows Maryland's fifth- and sixth-year seniors. . Franklin said offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach, who suffered a knee injury last winter, is closing in on returning. Franklin noted that Dieffenbach must be ready ''physically, mentally and emotionally'' before he'll play. . Franklin also noted that ''open competition'' will be held in practice this week for the punting position. Starter Chris Gulla was replaced by freshman Daniel Pasqariello during the Ohio State game. The two combined on eight punts - four each - for a 34.5-yard average per punt. ''We'll keep track of yardage and hang time all week long and the most consistent guy, we'll go with him,'' Franklin said.

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