More Than Just Football

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

While football — practices, games, film study, etc. — is obviously a large part of the college experience for Penn State players, there’s more to that experience than just the football.

Like any other college student, they have interests and hobbies away from the field. They have aspects of Penn State specifically that they love, besides suiting up on Saturdays during the fall or attending an 8 a.m. class in the Thomas Building.

We caught up with a few Nittany Lions to see what other areas they enjoy most about the Penn State experience.  

For linebacker Micah Parsons, his favorite non-football aspect of Penn State is the opportunity to get an up-close look at the Nittany Lions’ dominant wrestling program, which won an NCAA title in Parsons’ first year on campus and has captured eight of the past nine championships overall. 

“Being able to go to those wrestling matches for free is crazy,” Parsons said. “To be able to see Cael (Sanderson) and them do what they do best, it’s an awesome feeling.” 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Parsons is a regular at nearly every home wrestling dual for Penn State, and doesn’t shy away from his support on Twitter, particularly when the Nittany Lions are competing on the mat at the Big Ten Championships or for an NCAA title. 

“If I could play any other sport here it’d definitely be wrestling,” he said. “They have like a mini college football experience and atmosphere in Rec Hall or the BJC. It’s loud, insane and intense. It’s amazing to watch it as a fan.”

Running backs Nick Eury and Ricky Slade agreed the support of Penn State fans and alumni is unrivaled.

When the team travels for away games, Eury and Slade are accustomed to seeing Penn States invade the opposing team’s stadium. 

“With Penn Staters, no matter who it is and even if you’ve never met them before, they make you feel like family,” Slade said. “I like it. It’s a home away from home type feeling when you’re around other Penn Staters.” 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Eury said he’s even interacted with Penn State fans on vacation, who approach him in his blue and white gear and strike up a conversation, talking to him as if they’ve known him for his whole life when they only just met a few minutes before then. 

That Penn State connection doesn’t really ever end. 

“Wherever you go if you’re wearing a Penn State hat or shirt, they’re excited to talk about it and you’re excited to talk about it. That’s such a cool thing,” Eury said. “Wherever you go, there’s going to be a Penn State fan and they’re going to love you for going to Penn State. The Penn State brand is incredible.” 

Eury might be getting a little bit more attention from Penn State fans. You might remember his incredible touchdown run in the season opener against Idaho, in which he dragged three Vandal defenders into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Defensive tackle Antonio Shelton couldn’t narrow his favorite Penn State trait outside of football. 

There a few things that will stick with him long after his playing career is over. First, he said he was thankful for the opportunity to join a fraternity at Penn State. 

Second, the bonding and relationships built with his teammates.


The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

“I love them to death. It’s one of my favorite parts of being here, being in college, Shelton said. “We get each other through things. Friendships for life.” 

And lastly?

“That Penn State education, man. I’m getting a degree that’s going to be extremely valuable in getting my foot in the door in my profession,” Shelton, who is majoring in journalism, said.  “Getting a high-class education is so important to me.”

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