With the 2017 season days away, it’s fitting to catch up with one of Penn State’s biggest supporters and a fan favorite: Adam Taliaferro.
Taliaferro — who sustained a career-ending spinal cord injury as a freshman for the Nittany Lions in 2000 — joined us for “Five Questions” this week to discuss the upcoming anniversary of his life-changing hit, Penn State’s 2017 expectations and his favorite Nittany Lion to watch in the past decade.
Check it out:
Q: So, knowing how passionate you are about the Nittany Lions, there might be an obvious answer to this question. But I’ll ask it anyway. What’s your prediction for this season and why?
A: Man, I say this all the time — and I’ll admit to it, I’m one of the most biased Penn State fans out there — so every year I never see a loss in the record. This year, it remains the same. But I can say it with a little more confidence this year because I truly believe if this team plays up to its ability each and every game, they can win every game. I’m excited about that. With the leadership of Trace (McSorley) and all the guys coming back, Penn State fans have a real reason to be excited this year.
Q: Outside of the easy answers being Saquon Barkley and Trace, what player on Penn State do you look forward to watching most?
A: It’s interesting because I’m a south Jersey guy so I’m always keeping eye out for my guys from south Jersey. We’ve got a few. But this year, and he’s already got a little bit of playing time, but it’s Juwan Johnson. I’m excited to watch him play. (Wide receivers) Coach (Josh) Gattis has said he’s had a great camp, and they’re expecting a lot of out of him this year, so I’ve enjoyed watching Juwan. I’m really excited to see what he brings. With Chris (Godwin) leaving for the (NFL) draft last year, someone’s got to step up. They’ve got great receivers, but I think Juwan has the ability to really step his game up this year.
Q: Staying along the same lines, going back in the past 10 years, Penn State has had a lot of electric players. Excluding the current roster, who’s the most exciting player you loved to see?
A: That’s a good question, man. The last 10 years... Aww, man. Let me think here, let me think here. That’s hard. I don’t want to say Saquon. That’s the easy answer. My guy Allen Robinson. He was definitely the most exciting to me. He was a baller.
Q: I don’t know if anyone’s asked you this before, but I know you’ve been inside Beaver Stadium for a lot of Penn State games over the last decade or two. Which is the most memorable for you?
A: Personally for me, it’s got to be the game I came back against Miami in 2001. That’s a moment I’ll never forget. But outside of that, I would say the Nebraska game in 2002 (a 40-7 Nittany Lion win). It was a night game. They were highly ranked. I don’t know what it was. The atmosphere was just electric that evening.
Q: You mentioned the game you came back against Miami, walking out onto the field. This September it’s going to be 17 years since your career-ending spinal cord injury. How frequently does that moment, that game, cross your mind? Is it a daily thing, or is it something you’ve compartmentalized over the years?
A: For me, at the beginning of every Penn State season, it kind of brings it back. I got injured in September, so around the time of training camp and early September, it all comes by. I remember being at Penn State and playing my freshman year, it was just such an exciting time just to be playing college football and playing at Penn State and I had it taken away so quickly. September 23 is a day I’ll always remember. It was tough going through that injury, but now I’m thankful. It’s been 17 years. My life is good. I have a family. I couldn’t ask for much more right now. The first couple of anniversaries were tough, but now it’s kind of a celebration. I look back on how bad that injury was and see how I’ve been blessed throughout these 17 years. It’s been a great thing.