“The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World.’ That’s how many Penn State fans remember an ill-advised tweet by NJ.com’s Ryan Dunleavy. Dunleavy, a beat reporter covering Rutgers football, opined that former Rutgers commit Saquon Barkley may not have been able to find a spot in the Scarlet Knights’ backfield when the teams played in 2015. Of course, that notion is absurd, and smacked of sour grapes when it was tweeted. But unlike many Nittany Lion fans, Saquon Barkley is quick to forgive. I’m all for forgiving - but don’t think for a second that I’ll ever forget.
Speaking of Barkley, the physical specimen is slated to appear in ESPN’s Body Issue, hitting newsstands later this month. I don’t think the Body Issue has ever had a centerfold, but if they were to ever start, this would be the year. And your last piece of Barkley news - while he has yet to see the field, Saquon’s jersey is currently the number one seller, according to Dicks Sporting Goods. Get it Sa Sa!
In local news, McLanahan’s is a Penn State staple, up there with the Lion Shrine, grilled stickies, and the Creamery ice cream. A one stop shop that offers groceries, prepared food, apparel, various odds and ends - and now beer. That’s right, McLanahan’s now offers self-serve beer taps, which I’m sure will be used absolutely responsibly.
Appearing on a slew of lists, Trace McSorley has been named the Number 15 overall college football player according to Sports Illustrated. ESPN is also high on Trace, as they’ve called him the most exciting player on the Penn State roster entering 2018.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Christian Hackenberg is officially a free agent, having been cut by the Oakland Raiders. His NFL career may or may not be over, but Hackenberg is still drawing attention - this time, from the CFL. It remains to be seen whether Christian will ever play a meaningful snap of football as a professional, but being willing to spend some time in the CFL may be necessary for the time being.
Following the quarterback train, Tommy Stevens sticking around as a backup for 2018 has done a lot to quiet uncertainty about 2019 and beyond. But for 2018, Stevens needs to see the field a lot more than he did in 2017. His presence on the field instantly changes the way defenses approach the Lions’ offense, and provides a great number of wrinkles to an already dynamic offense.
2017 attendance has been broken down, and Penn State again did well. The Nittany Lions finished third in the country in average attendance, coming in at 106,707 spectators per game, behind Michigan and Ohio State. The Lions’ average attendance rate was 99.7% of capacity . . . compare that with Pitt, who averaged just 36,295 on the year, good for a 53.1% attendance rate. Sorry Panthers!
Lastly, Penn State has often prided itself on producing people that are pillars of the community. This is often embodied by the players, as they contribute to Thon, participate in Lift for Life, and by visiting the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital every year. The coaches, too, strive to be good and upstanding men, including former head coach Bill O’Brien, who made a point of visiting the late Paul Gorham in 2011 when he was battling cancer. People like this embody the notion of success with honor, and are a big reason why the name Penn State carries so much clout.