Pennsylvania Kids with Penn State Hearts…

Pennsylvania Kids with Penn State Hearts…

Not long after his arrival in State College, newly-hired head coach James Franklin spoke on behalf of millions of us when he proclaimed himself “a Pennsylvania kid with a Penn State heart”. Along with the much more scrutinized “Dominate the State,” the two phrases became an instant hit and made our introduction to Coach Franklin just a little easier. Less than a week later, he reportedly reached out to a little-known Rutgers commit by way of Whitehall, Pennsylvania. He firmly let the junior running back know that he had no other choice than to change his plans and become a Nittany Lion. That kid was 2015 freshman sensation, Saquon Barkley. Barkley’s subsequent flip and commitment to Penn State in the early stages of Franklin’s tenure set in motion the renewed desire for Pennsylvania’s finest high school athletes to stay home and join the rebuild that was underway in Happy Valley.

Ultimately Barkley went on to win the highly coveted Mr. Pennsylvania as a senior, an award presented by James Franklin last year, ironically enough. The runner-up? Often overlooked, but no less a threat than Saquon, Harrisburg’s Andre Robinson. This past Saturday, high school football officially wrapped up for the season once again with this year’s Mr. PA Awards. The winner in the AAA/AAAA category: Penn State commit, Miles Sanders, with Michal Menet being a runner-up. The A/AA winner was preferred walk-on, Michael Shuster, with Connor McGovern acting as the runner-up. Perhaps the irony of it all and a final exclamation point to this year’s Class of 2016, is that the presenter was Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi. After all the negative recruiting and shenanigans that led up to National Signing Day, that one had to sting just a little. Of course, things won’t be settled for good until September 10th, but one thing is certain, however far Franklin ends up taking the Nittany Lions, he’s going to do it with Pennsylvania kids at the core of his foundation.

In other news, Pro Bowl wideout and Penn State legend Allen Robinson made some social media waves this week by posting the beginning stages of his newest tattoo. The former Nittany Lion and two-time All American is in the process of immortalizing perhaps his finest moment in Blue and White by having “The Catch” versus Michigan in 2013 tattooed on his torso. The defender on the play, Michigan’s Channing Stribling apparently took exception to it and voiced his dislike on Twitter. After the usual back and forth banter we have all grown to love in regards to social media (note the sarcasm), A-Rob closed the door once again on poor Channing when he had to correct his misspelling of the word “congrats”. That’s right folks, the Michigan alum spelled out “congrates” instead. Blame auto-correct all you want, but once a wolverine always a wolverine and Allen Robinson got the best of this wolverine once and for all.

Finally, THON 2016 is officially upon us and for the first time since Shane McGregor in 2012, a football player will be dancing. After three years of being the odd man out, Matt Zanelatto, a self-described “retired athlete,” will take the floor after raising almost $17,000 on behalf of the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB). As Zanelatto dances his weekend away, his former teammates will be busy taking part in Athlete Hour, making dreams come true for the Make-A-Wish program and giving tours of the Lasch Building to THON families. Without question, this weekend represents Penn State’s finest hour year in and year out and we wish all of our dancers the best of health and plenty of strength throughout the 46-hour event. I leave you this week with the immortal words of our beloved JoePa as THON takes center stage for the 43rd year in a row, “When they say ‘We Are Penn State,’ THIS is what they are talking about!"