Despite the lack of genuine recognition on TV, so many players stood out to me this game. Every series somebody was showing us Penn State in a moment. I love those flashes of Penn State values. Those moments when we show the world who We Are.
Obviously everybody’s talking about Saquon Barkley. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our breakout freshman star. He’s exciting and energetic and gives us hope for our season and the future. That’s all fine and good, but you know we are looking for more.
I heard the most delightful story this week-- have you heard it yet? Apparently, in high school, Saquon competed in a track meet and won a gold medal. Also at the track meet was a young woman who won a gold medal that was revoked in a timer malfunction technicality. She lost the do-over and was inconsolable. Our Mr. Barkley, who had been helped out by this young lady earlier, went tent to tent looking for her. When he found her, he gave her his medal, saying that she deserved it. Humility: that’s a Penn State moment.
Then, there’s Joey Julius. As my dad said, nothing makes sense about our kicker, but you gotta love him. He’s big, he’s unconventional, and I’m pretty sure he’s just punching the ball with his toe. He’s apparently got a fan club as evidenced by the Big Toe signs and t-shirts. When he revs up his arms and runs toward that ball, I just don’t see it happening but it does every time. How does he do it? Heart: that’s a Penn State moment.
And, who didn’t love watching Austin Johnson run that recovered fumble for 74 yards and a touchdown? The underdog runs his heart out for his team. Tenacity: that’s a Penn State moment.
We have far too many injuries after this game. The health of our young team is certainly a concern. It feels like we can only limp along until we finally have our full depth returned; the groundless sanctions continue to haunt us a little bit longer. While we all wait and hope to hear good news about Barkley and Lynch, their injuries set up the most significant moment of the whole game.
Please tell me you saw the look on Mark Allen’s face the moment before he ran onto the field. That kid looked scared. My husband and I instantly started routing for him. He looked like he needed it.
And then, his first play on the field, the ball is thrown to him and dude runs in for a TD! You couldn’t ask for a better moment than that but about thirty seconds later you get one. The cameras cut to Mark Allen surrounded by an entire sideline of teammates clapping his back and congratulating him. Family: he’s going to remember that Penn State moment forever.
Penn State moments: humility, tenacity, heart, family. It’s just part of who We Are.
Next week we get to show Army what we’re about. Looking at the sunset sky as the victory bell rang out, I had a good feeling. Red sky at night, Nittany Lions delight.