These names have become commonplace, thrown around at the dinner table during random conversation when talking about Penn State Football. They roll off the tongue without any thought as to who these people really are. These individuals are just like us, except they play football in front of hundreds of thousands of people every weekend. They work hard for something they love and for that reason, they represent the university with their name. But what about the name Colin Harrop? Harrop is certainly not a recognizable name, which makes sense given he is a third string safety; someone people might consider just another secondary player. But this name stands for our team just as much as Robinson or Ficken. This name holds a story that can compare, if not beat, the stories of some of the more well-known players on the team. This is a name to remember.
Harrop came from a moderately large high school, where he was a second-team All-Lancaster-Lebanon League defensive back his senior year. He was scouted by a couple of division III schools, Albright and Ursinus to name a few, but nothing extraordinary in his eyes. Harrop always wanted to attend Penn State; his sister is a current student and his brother graduated a few years ago. He decided to go for it. He committed to Penn State, figuring he would have to tryout for the team as a walk-on if he ever hoped to accomplish his dream of playing in Beaver Stadium.
One belief that stood true for Harrop throughout his attempts to join the team was to just go for it. He didn’t hesitate when he asked to speak to Coach Butler, the defensive coordinator, when the coach visited Harrop’s high school in the hopes of scouting a different student. He went for it when he snuck into the football building at the start of his freshman year and left a highlight tape on Coach Butler’s desk. He went for it when he was one of more than ninety students attempting to walk on to the team during the fall of his freshman year. Looking back on all these pivotal moments in his life, Harrop never regretted the decision he made, not for a single second.
After a period of just going for it, overcoming obstacles, both mental and physical, Harrop had to conquer another element standing in his way on his journey to becoming a member of Penn State’s team. He overcame the obstacle of receiving a rejection letter after his first audition. Eventually, Harrop received a letter explaining that a staff member made an error and that he was a member of the Penn State football team.
Throughout the fall of his freshman year, he conquered the obstacle of training on his own, not with the rest of the team, until the spring semester. From September until November, working out, school and working out some more were his life. Self-motivation at its best. But the biggest obstacle he overcame was the grueling winter workouts of the Penn State football team. Every Tuesday, after sled pulls, he was sick and Friday team workouts at 5:15 a.m. opened his eyes to the world of college football and the hard work that goes into every game. Harrop was battered and beat, but he came back ready for more with every week of training under his belt.
Fast forward to today and you will see Harrop in a new light. Since he began this journey he has not only grown as a football player, but as an individual. He is an official member of the team. He wears the same jersey and comes out of the same tunnel that all the other players do. The path he took to get to that tunnel was just a little bit different.
Now you may think I’m just writing this to show how hard a good friend of mine worked to get on to the football team. That’s where you are wrong. The real point of this article is to show that the secondary team is the future and they need to be treated as something more important than what they may seem like at this moment. It’s true, right now they aren’t getting much, if any, playing time. They aren’t making the big plays on 3rd down. They aren’t giving out signatures to sports fans young and old. But they are preparing for the day they do.
It’s a shame that we can’t explore the true potential that these players possess until something happens to the first string. Until that moment, that opportunity arises, they need to be treated like the underdog hero, ready to break loose and create history when given the chance. They are like the armed services of the football world, ready to serve and protect, at a moment’s notice. They are only truly appreciated after their first game-changing moment, not when they are standing on the sidelines, waiting to hear their name called.
When that moment comes, they will be ready. The will be ready to take the field, ready to be the next Ficken or the next Hackenberg. Those special individuals will be ready to be the future of Penn State Football.