Michael Mauti led not just the football team, but the entire University. He, along with his teammates, used his platform as a senior in a prominent national program to be the sole voice of defense and reason for Penn State. The only ones who spoke up for us. About the speech, he said, “we went there to tell everyone that we were staying together and that we were going to ignore the noise and go to work.”
Stay together. Ignore the noise. Go to work. Isn’t that just what we’ve been doing for the last five years? Sometimes finding a win and sometimes nothing but frustration, but always staying together, ignoring the noise, and going to work.
I’m not sure if, after all we’ve been through, Senior Day will ever cease to be emotional for me. The seniors we honored this weekend grew up in a program in flux, and provided leadership at a critical point in our history. From old to new. The changing of the guard. Many of us worried. Would our tradition be preserved or erased? Would we steady on in black shoes, basic blues or conform to mainstream, dramatic uniforms and gimmicky turnover chains? Would Success with Honor continue through so many coaching changes?
Under the ever watchful eyes of alumni, lettermen, and another new head coach we weren’t yet sure of, these seniors rose to the task brilliantly. I couldn’t imagine a brighter, more eloquent group of young men to bridge the gap than Grant Haley, Marcus Allen, DaeSean Hamilton, Jason Cabinda, Brandon Smith, Mike Gesicki, and the rest of our seniors, who almost never get mentioned by name but have the integrity and fortitude to support from second and third string positions. Cabinda said, “This was cementing what Penn State is and what Penn State will always be no matter what happens here, no matter how people try and put us down -- there’s nothing you can do to this place that we won’t rise above.”
While they’ve been staying together, ignoring the noise, and going to work, we’ve been enjoying one winning season after another. That’s why I’m looking at the bigger picture, and why I refuse to hear the short-sighted complaints about giving second and third stringers playing time in a win on senior day. That’s why this week I’m nothing but grateful for the hard work and strong character of the Penn State players who move on after this season. Thank you for being so much fun to watch, and for showing the nation We Still Are Penn State!