Game Ball and Helmet Stickers: Trace and The Lion Kings
If there was ever any doubt who our leader was over the past three years, it was Trace that stole our hearts once again as he knelt in prayer, bent down to give the turf one last kiss, and rang our Victory Bell for the final time, as we all watched and wiped our tears away. To date, that makes 31 wins with his name written all over them and only 8 total losses; most of which weren’t decided until the bitter end. The two blowouts in Ann Arbor notwithstanding, the Nittany Lions led by #9 were in any and every game he took part in over the course of his career. In short, all he did was find a way to win against all odds.
Is he the greatest ever to lace up those basic blues and black shoes? It’s hard to argue with the record books and if he brought us that elusive national title we so desperately want, that wouldn’t even be a question. The fact that Trace and the Lion Kings even had us in the conversation three years in a row speaks for itself. What they did do, however, was make us better. On the field and off. They led the charge in putting the happy back in Happy Valley and they did it with style and grace. They wiped the tarnish away and forced Penn State back into the equation.
What they did was take us all on one hell of a three-year ride. There were bumps along the way for sure, but as that ride slowly comes to an end, it’s clear how truly hard it is saying goodbye to a group that has meant so much. Half of them left a year ago as Saquon, Mike G, DaeSean, Cabinda, and others rode off into the sunset and the rest gave their final farewells to us on Saturday as Trace and the Lion Kings rung that victory bell one last time.
All that’s left to do is sit and wait to find out the time, place, and date on their official curtain call. Before they came, being ‘bowl eligible' was a struggle. As they leave, a New Year’s Six bowl has become the expectation, for better or worse. On Saturday, there were stars all over the field making plays in all three phases of the game but it is Trace and the Lion Kings that get today’s lone accolade for being the ones that set the new standard we've all come to expect and for doing it so darn well.