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Penn State Football: For Menet and Fries, No Regrets, Just a Lot of Waiting

by on May 13, 2020 6:57 PM

When a football player goes about the process of weighing his NFL future or a return to college, the prospect of the season simply never happening doesn’t enter the mind.

Sure, maybe you get injured during preseason camp and spend the year watching. That’s a risk, but that could happen at any level at any time.

No football at all though? That doesn’t really enter the equation. Sports have seasons that change just like the seasons, nailed to a time of year, unwavering in its predictable occurrence, and that has never changed. Football will always be there because it always has been. The game just vanishing isn’t really something one considers.

And of course neither did Penn State offensive linemen Michal Menet or Will Fries. They, like everyone else, assumed football would be back in 2020. In fairness, it isn’t gone yet, but that potential certainly looms larger than ever before.

“I’m definitely not second-guessing it,” Menet said on Wednesday. “I put a lot of time into my decision, it really was kind of an easy decision for me.

“There are definitely things I know I needed to work on to become a better player. I've been really addressing those since the season ended, so it's been a positive for me.”

In reality for both Fries and Menet, there’s more than enough tape of both players taking snaps that a lost college football season wouldn’t doom their future prospects. If anything it would eliminate a year of wear and tear at a physical position that is rarely kind on the body. A season’s worth of rest, workouts and film study isn’t the worst thing.

Certainly not the worst thing for the knees. Although if they had gone to the NFL, at least they'd be getting paid.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Fries said. “It’s out of my control. I can’t worry about it. All I can do is get myself better every day. All I can do is keep preparing for whatever the next opportunity is. At some point, with the guidance of health and safety officials, people will be able to get back. I’m looking forward to when that is.”

With the calendar closing in on 100 days until Penn State’s season opener, the collective college football world continues to see how the rest of the actual world responds to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While the powers at be may feel forced to find a way to pull off a 2020-21 season in the name of financial stability, there is no lack of uncertainty when it comes to what that season might look like. Penn State University at large is slated to announce its fall academic plans by June 15, a date nearly a month away.

And if students aren’t allowed to return to campus or State College, it’s unclear if the athletic department would make an exception for student-athletes, a stance it currently does not support.

All of this rounding into what seems like an impossible answer to a difficult problem: what if the season simply never happens? Of course, all of this goes above and beyond Menet and Fries.

“We’ve discussed all the possibilities, but I’m really trying not to think about it much,” Menet said. “My opinion really doesn’t matter. People who do this stuff for a living are going to be the ones to tell us when it’s the safest for everybody to get back.

“At the end of the day, we all just want to play football and we’re just waiting until somebody gives us the OK to do that.”

They’re certainly not the only ones.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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