Check out this week’s Roaring 20 to see, hear, and feel what it was like to be at Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon for Senior Day and the Military Appreciation game against Rutgers. We’ve also embedded a few extra videos and photos for you.
1. Saturday was a special day for John Black, author of The Football Letter for the past 45 seasons. John’s name is included on a commemorative plaque that was unveiled in the press box during a pregame ceremony, and you can see a video of the recognition on our Facebook page. We’ve also got photos on our Twitter page.
2. John didn’t have any idea the recognition was happening, and his family helped facilitate the surprise. His son, Brian, secured a press box pass to ensure John was in the press box early enough, and his wife, Veda Kay, apparently told John that she was heading to McConnellsburg on Saturday. John even got up at 5 a.m. Saturday to fill up the car with gas and check the air pressure in the tires. You can see John’s surprise starting around the 45-second mark of the video.
3. It’s worth noting Football Letter creator Ridge Riley’s name is also engraved on the plaque, along with a dozen or so additional reporters.
4. Special thanks to Penn State Associate Athletics Director Kris Petersen and Associate Director Greg Kincaid for leading the ceremony and honoring John and Ridge.
5. Jahan Dotson caught his 23rd career touchdown Saturday and the first from freshman quarterback Christian Veilleux. The score places Dotson in third place all-time at Penn State, breaking a tie with Deon Butler, whose single-game record for receiving yards Dotson broke earlier in the month against Maryland.
6. After the game, Dotson said Veilleux looked poised, and “poised” is the perfect word to describe the freshman’s performance. Veilleux was solid, made the right pass at the right time, and located receivers downfield. On his 67-yard touchdown pass to Malick Meiga, Veillex confidently stepped up in the pocket, something that isn’t always a given for a first-year player.
7. Going back to Dotson, he celebrated with fans afterward, with some encouragement from James Franklin. We captured the entire sequence, and there’s something about those tunnel lights that make the footage pop.
8. Watch the latest clip to the end to see Sean Clifford embracing both Dotson and Franklin. Clifford was among the group of nearly three dozen players who caught a virus this week, and he came out of the game after the offense’s first few series. Speaking to the media after the game, Franklin said he went to Clifford and said he was pulling him for Veilleux, and Clifford responded by saying he understood. Tough week and a tough season for Clifford, who hasn’t backed down at all. Hopefully, he’ll be healthy enough to go Saturday against Michigan State.
9. Undoubtedly, one of the best stories this season for Penn State is Arnold Ebiketie. The senior transfer from Temple has become a defensive force and fan favorite for the Nittany Lions. Ebiketie’s recorded a tackle for loss in seven straight games, and he increased his team-high sack total to 9.5 on Saturday.
10. Following the alma mater, Ebiketie celebrated with fans and autographed the sign that members of Nittanyville had made for him this season. You can check out that sequence on our Twitter page.
11. We also spoke with Ebiketie after the game, and you can see that video on YouTube. Ebiketie discussed his emotions on Senior Day and that shortened clip is available on our Twitter page.
13. For the clip with Franklin, we again encourage you to watch until the end. The guy’s got hops.
14. Malick Meiga and Parker Washington have the very real potential to provide one heck of a 1-2 receiving combo in the years to come. Meiga is 6-foot-4, and Washington has made tough catches in clutch situations all season. Those two will be a lot of fun to watch next season.
15. The announced attendance Saturday exceeded 106,000, which helped Penn State averaged 106,799 fans in seven home games this season. That mark is the seventh-highest average in program history and best season average since 2009, per Penn State Athletics. A year removed from no fans at Beaver Stadium, and the economics, social, and community impact of those numbers can’t be emphasized enough.
16. Last week, I mentioned the tailgating group right across from me. I chatted with them again Saturday, and the photo above shows the entire crew. They asked me to take a group photo of them, which I was happy to do. They’re moving to a new lot next year, though they’ll still be within easy walking distance. I may have to make my way over sometime next season and take them up on their offerings of food and conversation.
17. Penn State letterman and former NFL standout Garry Gilliam joined us last week on Football Letter Live, and here’s the episode link. Gilliam’s appearance is right after we speak with Bruce Apgar, president of our Naval ROTC Alumni Interest Group. The conversation was so good, the hour flew by. I looked at the time, thinking we had at least another half hour, and instead, we had less than 10 minutes left. That’s when you can tell the show is going well. Thanks to everyone who continues to tune in Thursday nights at 7.
18. We want to make sure we mention the passing of former Penn State and NFL fullback Steve, Smith, who died over the weekend after a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Raiders, with whom Smith played seven seasons, announced his passing Saturday, calling Smith an inspiration. Smith was drafted in the third round by the Raiders in 1987 after starring at Penn State, where he helped the Nittany Lions win their last national championship in the 1986 season. You can read more on ESPN.com.
19. For anyone attending Saturday’s pep rally at Michigan State, you’ll hear from Detroit Lions linebacker and fullback Jason Cabinda. The Nittany Lion standout will attend, and he’ll be part of the livestream that we’ll share. Tune in on Facebook on Saturday starting around 1:30 p.m.
20. Go State. Beat the Spartans.
For more on The Football Letter, including online archives (requires Alumni Association member log-in), click here.
Not yet an Alumni Association member? Click here.
Follow the Football Letter on Twitter for more videos, photos, and features.