As your average sports-loving young boy growing up in State College, I naturally gravitated towards being a Penn State football fan. Even when I spent the first half of my fourth grade year (and consequently the entire 1993 football season) in Colorado and thus, was unable to watch most of PSU's games (remember, this was before the Internets and having 50+ sports channels on digital cable), I managed to keep up to date on my team's progress. My dad perhaps noticing my obsessiveness and himself having become a more avid fan realized that perhaps it was time to join our other family friends and invest in season tickets, which is exactly what he did in the Spring of 1994...
While that 1994 season sure was magical in its own right, I'm not here to talk about that right this moment (hint, hint). I do however, want to wax nostalgic about how being a brand-new season ticket holder in 1994 allowed me the chance to see one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) Penn State quarterback of all-time in Kerry Collins up close and in person. While he was no slouch of a quarterback during his first full year as a starter in 1993, he transformed into a Heisman Trophy-worthy one during that '94 season. Of course, it helps quite a bit when you have an NFL-caliber offensive line anchored by stalwarts like Marco Rivera and Jeff Hartings, as well as a fellow Heisman Trophy contender of a teammate in tailback Ki-Jana Carter (and his not-too-shabby sidekick, Mike Archie) and a trio of deadly pass-catchers in Bobby Engram, Freddie Scott, and Kyle Brady.
Nonetheless, it was Collins' senior leadership along with his physical tools and poise in the pocket that allowed him to enjoy what was at the time, a record-breaking 2,679 passing yard season with a solid 66% completion rate and 21 touchdowns to only seven interceptions (that's a 3:1 TD to INT ratio, for you math geeks). Watching Collins lead that '94 PSU offense was akin to seeing a famed musical act in their prime, hitting all the right notes and never skipping a beat. I still feel it's a shame that Collins placed a mere fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, as he deserved better. Apparently, getting the shaft from the national media wasn't just limited to the national rankings.
I may have only been in elementary school when I saw him play live, but Kerry Collins remains the standard I use when comparing every other PSU quarterback I've seen line up under center since he left Happy Valley for a productive NFL career, one that saw him lead the New York Giants to Super Bowl XXXV where they sadly, ran into the defensive buzzsaw that was the Baltimore Ravens.
Sure, Christian Hackenberg will likely obliterate every school passing record when it's all said and done, but Kerry Collins will always hold a special place in my heart, having led the very first PSU team I got to see live and in action.