A crowd estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 began gathering before dawn to attend the workout, and many stayed after to offer encouragement and pose for photographs with the players, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday.
The football program was hit with severe sanctions July 23, after the conviction of former assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges and a report outlining the school administration's alleged attempts to cover up the crimes
The sanctions offer the opportunity for any football player to immediately transfer to another school, and Coach Bill O'Brien has been working to keep his team focused and together, the newspaper noted.
"You're not going to go anywhere and find this type of support or find this fan base," quarterback Matt McGloin said of the surprise welcome. "It definitely gets you back on track, makes you focus on why you're here and why you play the game."