STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - With curiosity, hope, and more than a little uncertainty, Penn State players filed into a meeting room Sunday at the Lasch Football Building to hear new head coach Bill O'Brien address them for the first time.

When the players emerged after the session of more than 30 minutes, they were happy, excited, and ready to put the pads on.

"It went great, a really awesome first impression," said defensive end Pete Massaro, a former star at Marple Newtown High in Delaware County. "He's a really intense guy. I can tell he's really passionate because he got all the guys fired up right away. There was so much energy and so much buzz in that room, it was unbelievable."

For quarterback Matt McGloin, who smiled broadly when reminded that O'Brien is the same guy who coaches Tom Brady as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, it was almost like Christmas in January.

"I got chills just listening to him," said McGloin, who did not play in the TicketCity Bowl because of a concussion suffered last month in a scuffle with wide receiver Curtis Drake, and said he still has not passed testing for the injury.

"I think a lot of guys got excited in there during that meeting when Coach was talking about the things he wanted to do. You turn the TV on and watch the Patriots and, as an offense, you can't help but get excited," McGloin said.

The meeting concluded a whirlwind weekend for O'Brien, who departed after the meeting to help the Patriots prepare for their NFL playoff game at home against the Denver Broncos on Saturday night.

O'Brien, 42, agreed to become Penn State's new head coach Thursday night. He flew to State College on Friday and signed a five-year contract. He was introduced Saturday as Joe Paterno's successor. He took to the basketball court and waved to the crowd at the Nittany Lions' women's game on Saturday and the men's game on Sunday.

To listen to the players, who may have had questions when reading and hearing criticism of O'Brien's hiring, he finished his weekend by hitting a home run with them.

"The meeting went very well, better than I had expected," center Matt Stankiewitch said. "He was a great talker. He's got a straightforward personality, a great fit for a Penn State man - honest, respectable, a lot of charisma."

Running back Silas Redd called it "a great first impression.

"He's a very tough-minded guy who instills discipline," Redd said. "His leadership qualities were second to none, it seemed. Guys are ready to rally behind him and excited to play for him. He has a way of firing you up without even yelling at you."

O'Brien also met through the weekend with all the assistant coaches who worked this season. Players were pleased to hear in the meeting that Ron Vanderlinden, linebackers coach for the last 10 years, would be returning to the staff.

Vanderlinden joins defensive line coach Larry Johnson as holdovers asked by O'Brien to work for him. The Johnson move delighted both Massaro and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.

"It's awesome," Massaro said. "Coach Johnson was actually a huge part of me coming to Penn State. We have a really great relationship. He wants the best for me and the best for our D-line. I'm absolutely ecstatic that he's coming back."

Hill said Johnson "is the reason a lot of us came to Penn State."

"As a defensive lineman, I have so much respect and love for him with how he's developed me and everybody before me and who's going to come after and how much passion he has for the game," he said.

There were no specifics given about the style of offense, which needs a shot in the arm. But a big question is how the new coach, who admitted Saturday to "having an Irish temper" and received national attention for a televised sideline argument with Brady, will get along with McGloin, whose temper got the best of him in the fight with Drake.

"I guess we're going to find out if it happens - hopefully, it doesn't," McGloin said. "As a quarterback, you're probably going to bump heads once or twice. But personally, I'm looking for somebody that's going to push you. I'm not looking for a friend out there. You want someone who's going to make you a better player."