Penn State football: Senior day special for fans, graduating students

Penn State student Jeremy “Jay” Barterfield said, half jokingly, that he enjoys Penn State so much that it will take him six years to graduate.

“I’ll walk the stage in (the) spring, but won’t put this school behind me once I’m done,” Barterfield, 25, said. “I went to a couple of the other campuses and made my way to University Park, and it’s been the best bunch of years I’ve had. Learned a lot — good and bad — and came here for a reason, even if it’s gotten a bad reputation lately. ‘We are’ for a reason.”

Barterfield was tailgating with friends, family and fellow Penn State students in an RV lot near Beaver Stadium before the Nittany Lions’ last home football game of the season against Nebraska on Saturday afternoon.

As part of Senior Day, 17 Penn State senior football players were honored in a ceremony before kickoff.

Their names were announced to cheers from the crowd.

“I know they get a lot of attention, but it’s important to recognize them again,” said season ticket holder Jaymes Hagard. “Some of them gave Penn State fans hope during a time there was none and shined when they needed to.”

“We’ve been a loyal fan base these last few years, and these guys have been with the team their entire Penn State career,” student Julia Kroening added. “These are some of the guys that make us proud to be a Penn Stater.”

Other honorees included senior cheerleaders and six-time world champion feature baton twirler Matt Freeman, who performed a fire twirling show that got the crowd on its feet.

Former defensive end Dave Robinson was also honored at halftime.

Robinson was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played with the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins from 1963 to 1974.

The Nittany Lions lost to the Cornhuskers, 23-20 in another overtime game. Fans said this was a sad ending to the season’s final home game, but they are looking for Penn State to wrap up the season with a win against No. 16 Wisconsin.

“I wouldn’t call it a good season, but a win next week can change things and maybe give the team confidence for next season,” said Collin Johansen.

“There have been a lot of changes and the team had to overcome a lot of adversity, but I think they have the attitude that doesn’t let the Sandusky scandal define what the program is,” added Myles Porter.

Greg Michaelson said he is looking forward to next year’s game against the University of Central Florida in Dublin and hopes the hype of that game gives the team the oomph to have more wins next season.

“Hopefully it’ll light a firecracker under them,” Michaelson said. “It’s a highly anticipated game for everyone and (quarterback Christian) Hackenberg won’t be a rookie ... so he’ll have more experience under his belt to lead the team into a couple more victories.”

The Nittany Lions end the season on Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. game against Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.