So Long Seniors
The guy next to me in the coffee shop asked me if I was working on a Sunday. I explained and he told me I had a cool job. And he’s right. And it’s thanks to all of you reading that I get to sit here mulling over what it means to be a Penn Stater and a fan of this team.
I missed you last week. We had a string of illnesses in our family that kept my hands full, and I missed my chance to talk about James Franklin’s 100th win as a head coach. It's no secret that I’m still a Franklin Fan; he has key characteristics that I want to see in a Penn State head coach. It's always been about more than just winning, it's about the continuation of the Grand Experiment that began with a beloved coach who took eleven seasons to do what Franklin did in nine. Nobody’s a Joe Paterno but JoePa and I don’t mean to imply Franklin could or would or should fill his shoes. You’ll try to prove me wrong with his losing records against top ten teams, against Ohio State, on the road, whatever statistics you’ve got, but I believe that James Franklin has the makings of great.
I’ve got the alma mater playing in my head this morning thinking about saying so long to this senior class. Did you happen to see Dvon Ellies putting his heart into the final Beaver Stadium rendition? He knew every dang word; he meant every dang word, too. When we stood at childhood’s gate, shapeless in the hands of fate, thou didst mold us Dear Old State.
I know I’ve ragged on Clifford for being a door hanger but I’m happy for him. I’m grateful for all of the time and energy and more time he’s put into our program. I appreciate the love and loyalty he’s shown for Penn State. I respect the way he’s represented all of us these past six years. On his first career passing attempt he threw a touchdown pass to Brandon Polk and bookended it with another to KeAndre Lambert-Smith on his final pass at Beaver Stadium. Clifford led the team through two tough seasons and emerged with a ten-win showing, throwing thirteen straight completions in his finale. In an empty Beaver Stadium, the Thank You Fans graphic still lighting the scoreboard, he played a catch with his little brother Liam, a passing of the football torch. You’ve done good, Sean. Thank you for the legacy you leave with us.
Coach Franklin mentions this in nearly every post-game interview: we really do have something special here at Penn State. Clifford said, “People are going to be critical and that's because this place is so special. You demand excellence, and they demand the best, which is awesome. They should demand the best, they should want to win every game, they should want to be elite because that's what this program deserves.”
To all our seniors, Ji'Ayir Brown, Sean Clifford, Sebastian Constanti, Bryce Effner, Dvon Ellies, Alex Furmanek, Charlie Katshir, Grayson Kline, PJ Mustipher, Jake Pinegar, Joey Porter Jr., Cody Romano, Juice Scruggs, Chris Stoll, Jaden Seider, Jonathan Sutherland, Nick Tarburton, Mitchell Tinsley, Marquis Wilson, Michael Wright and Blake Zalar: may no act of yours bring shame and may your lives but swell thy fame. We are so proud of you. Thank you for your perseverance, your energy, and your leadership.
At the same time we pay tribute to this class of seniors, we look forward to next season’s team, our hopes bright and free. Abdul Carter, Nick Singleton, Katron Allen, Kalen King, KLS, and so many others who’ll be back again. One more post season game to go. Fingers crossed for a New Years Six invite. See you at the bowl game, Penn State Fam!