Saturday marks the final day that the 2013 Penn State seniors will get to play in front of the home crowd. The Nittany Lions host the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a 3:30 pm kickoff for what is always an entertaining game. The seniors on this current team deserve to go out in front of a loud, sold-out Beaver Stadium crowd.
There’s no question that attendance at Penn State over the past two seasons, especially this year, has been down. That fact could be attributed in large part to the harsh sanctions that were handed down by the NCAA before the start of last season. Factors like economics and a weak non-conference schedule are also to blame for all of the empty seats.
In last year’s home finale, Beaver Stadium was filled with supportive and appreciative fans who wanted to cheer the seniors. Those players were viewed as heroes of the program for choosing to stick around despite challenging circumstances. Plus, the 2012 team was full of popular leaders like Matt McGloin, Michael Zordich, Gerald Hodges, Jordan Hill and Michael Mauti.
While the current senior class may lack some of the big names, the players still deserve the same support as those from a year ago. The seniors who are still around had two different chances to leave Penn State without penalty. Instead, they all chose to be loyal to the school that gave them their opportunity to play college football.
The 2013 senior class is a mix of key starters as well as important role players.
John Urschel has helped anchor the offensive line the past few seasons. Fellow linemen Adam Gress, Tyle Howle and Eric Shrive have also played important parts on the line. Wide receiver Brandon Felder and fullback Pat Zerbe have also done their part to help the Nittany Lions be successful.
On defense, Malcolm Willis has been a staple in the Penn State secondary. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong has become known for his big hits in the defensive backfield and has even played linebacker this season. Glenn Carson, the lone starting linebacker from last year, is a big part of the Penn State defense. DaQuan Jones has turned into a solid defensive lineman over his time playing for the Nittany Lions.
Punter Alex Butterworth and injured tight end Matt Lehman have both seen their fair share of action as members of the Nittany Lions.
Though not yet a senior, star wide receiver Allen Robinson also needs to be included in the group that should be honored on Saturday. While there’s been no official word, Robinson seems certain to have an NFL career in his future and could make the game against Nebraska his last home game in a Penn State uniform.
Robinson, the best receiver in the Big Ten since last year, was likely sought after by many top schools during the period in which he could have transferred. Instead, like the seniors, he decided to be a loyal member of the Nittany Lions.
Saturday will be the last chance several Penn State players get to play in front of the supportive crowd at Beaver Stadium. The guys who stuck around when obstacles were all around them deserve a proper farewell from a loud, sold-out crowd.
Follow VBR Co-Editor Barry Leonard Jr. on Twitter