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My Favorite Penn State Player: Jeff Hartings

As we head into the last throes of the offseason, BSD has decided to get nostalgic, coming up with our favorite Penn State football-related memories. This week, we take a look back at our favorite players and today, Ben profiles Jeff Hartings.

Daily Collegian

On September 30th, 1995, Penn State hosted the Wisconsin Badgers - our third home game of my freshman year. Buried somewhere around section EB, 100 rows deep, awash in a quiet blue and white sea, a solitary gleeful cackle rang out.  People turned to look.

It was me.  While 95,000 people had watched Wally Richardson hand the ball to Stephen Pitts, who ran behind Andre Johnson and Marco Rivera for a modest gain of 2 yards, I had been watching #50, the backside guard, Jeff Hartings.  I chose wisely.

Pitts was more or less tackled.  The play was 99.9% over, though the ref's whistle had not completely blown the play dead.  So Hartings continued running his assignment and murdered a Badger standing near the pile - sent his *** flying a good four yards.


It was the Temple game that taught me to watch Hartings, second home game of the year.  Penn State faced goal to go against the Owls, heading into the student's end zone.  Hartings pulled, leading around the edge.  "40 Pitch" I bet.  He met a linebacker right at the goal line with an audible #thwack#, facemask squarely into the poor dude's chest.  But he didn't launch the linebacker - instead, he locked on like a pit bull.  The linebacker tried to swim out of it, but he was on roller skates, heading backwards.

Hartings drove the linebacker 4 yards deep into the end zone, then 6, and 8 yards deep.  As the linebacker's heels hit the back line of the end zone, he finally went over, flat on his back, and into the cheerleaders.  Hartings, still locked on, went with him, driving his face through the dude's chest, out the back of the end zone, until the force of the dude hitting the dirt somersaulted Hartings' ass over his own head.


Five days after the loss to Wisconsin - the first loss Hartings had experienced in almost two years - he appeared before the assembled media.  He was still pissed.

"We don't seem to go into a game with the attitude that we have to get our running game going first and then get our passing game going," Hartings said.

"We've been playing a little bit different offense. These three-wideout sets make it extremely difficult to get a good running game going because you have five trying to block against seven, and those aren't very good odds.  I know it helps the passing game and Wally's been playing great, but for Penn State to win we're going to have to develop a better running game."

"It's frustration," he said, explaining his comments. "And I don't want to sugarcoat it. The only way to get over this feeling is to go out and beat Ohio State."

The fifth-ranked Buckeyes, Saturday's Big Ten Conference opponent at Beaver Stadium, are a team Hartings spurned when he came out of Ohio's tiny St. Henry High.

"I just never liked them," he said. "It was probably the last place in America I wanted to go."

//Hartings chews on podium.

//Handlers return him to cage.


Jeff Hartings earned All Big-Ten honors three times.  He was twice Academic All-American, twice All-American, and as a senior on that 1995 team, he was voted a consensus All-American, which is a rare thing indeed.

My fond memories are rooted in his intensity, and nasty, physical play.  He was undersized, struggling to maintain 280 lbs.  He was also so nimble and quick, though - he moved as well in a 10 yard square as any linebacker could hope to move.

But here's the thing about Hartings, for me, that sets him apart: I don't know that he ever lost a single play.  If, by some minor miracle, he did get beaten on a snap, I'm certain he got his revenge the next down.  He was, in a single word, freakish.  Freakishly talented, freakishly intense, freakishly consistent.  And, if I can pick just one favorite, then he's it.