Imagine this. You are a talented football player. Penn State is coming off a 3-9 season in 2003 and a 4-7 season in 2004. You have other options, other scholarships to other programs with much better records. But you believe (as did many others who graduated last year) that you can help turn the program around. You believe in Penn State and Coach Joe Paterno. So you decide to take a chance on a team that had a losing record 4 out of 5 seasons. That couldn't win on the road. That was hanging around at the bottom of the Big Ten league.
The following seniors made such a commitment to Penn State in early 2005 and started their freshman year at Penn State in the Fall of 2005: Jeremy Boone (punter), Darryl Clark (quarterback), Jerome Hayes (defensive end), Josh Hull (linebacker), Dennis Landolt (tackle), Sean Lee (linebacker), Patrick Mauti (wide receiver), Andrew Pitz (kicker), Mickey Shuler (tight end), Brennan Coakley (tight end), and Knowledge Timmons (cornerback).
Of these seniors, only one player – Sean Lee – saw action in the 2005 football season. The rest were redshirted. But they came here. They took a chance. Thank you so much for choosing Penn State when we were down!
Thank you also to the following graduating seniors who joined Penn State in 2006 as freshmen or who transferred into Penn State in 2007: Tom Golarz (defensive tackle), Nerraw McCormack (tackle), Shelton McCullough (cornerback), Jared Odrick (defensive tackle), Ako Poti (tackle), Andrew Quarless (tight end), and A. J. Wallace (cornerback).
Most of them are familiar names. Many of them saw significant playing time throughout their career at Penn State. Some of them are not as familiar. Perhaps they were injured and their playing potential was cut short. Perhaps they had limited playing time or they played on the scout team in practice helping the varsity prepare each week.
However they contributed to Penn State football, thanks are in order. Thank you also to the following seniors who contribute as senior managers or undergraduate coaches in behind the scenes roles: Ryan Gmerek, John Kuceyeski, Brett Robinson, and Andrew Shilling.
We watched these seniors play every down in the time they were here. They contributed to a lot of great memories. Since 2006 we’ve seen them win 37 times and lose 13 times. Favorite games were the 28-27 overtime win at Minnesota in 2006, the Penn State White Out Win against Notre Dame in 2007, the Homecoming win against Michigan in 2008, our first win as a Big Ten team at the Horseshoe against Ohio State in 2008. Our win at the Big House in 2009. They brought us to the Outback Bowl, the Alamo Bowl, and the Rose Bowl. They brought us the Big Ten Championship last year. They will bring us to a bowl game this year, hopefully with a 10-2 regular season.
If they win the next two games and the bowl game, their final record since 2006 will be 40-13. We have celebrated many more victories with them, some of them tough ones, than we have mourned losses. It’s been a pleasure watching them play and watching them develop as players. It’s been a pleasure also to watch them graduate with a Penn State degree.
Penn State fans and especially students, I know we lost a heart-breaker last week. I know it’s a twelve-noon game. I know that some of you think a game against Indiana won't be competitive (think again). But be there anyhow. Be there ON TIME to support our seniors and give them thanks.
They deserve our support!