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Penn State Football: Senior Day Set For Important Group Of Nittany Lions

by on November 28, 2014 6:00 AM

It's a small class, but it was an important one for Penn State.

It was an important grouping of talent that stayed for the post-Sandusky years and full length of the sanctions. When these players opted to finish out their careers at Penn State there was no guarantee they would play in a bowl again, there was no guarantee they would ever win again. But here they are, headed to a bowl game and doing far better than anyone ever expected.

For Penn State head coach James Franklin it's a different kind of senior day. While he hasn't been through the past several years of ups and downs he knows what these players have meant to the program and what they mean to the future.

"I think obviously with this being my first year and not being here over the last three or four years with these guys makes it a little bit different," Franklin said. "But I think being here and now kind of understanding and more depth, the history and traditions at Penn State, I think what we've been through the last three years and what these guys have meant, how they've stuck with this university and the football program and the community as well have been tremendous leaders, have been tremendous ambassadors both on and off the field and in the classroom.

"It's significant.  I think everybody in our program, all the players kind of look up to them, which is typically the case in most programs. But I think it's magnified, obviously, from what they've been through. Mike Hull is a great example of that. Hard working, blue‑collared, humble, appreciative of everything that he stands for and everything this program is about as well. I'm just really, really proud of those guys, and I want to send them out the right way. I want them to have a great experience. That would be this game, and it would be going forward as well. So very, very proud of those guys."

In total Penn State will honor 17 players, some well-known, other who have worked hard behind the scenes and have rarely seen the field. But either way they all are an important part of the story of how Penn State football made it through unprecedented odds and came out the other end with unexpected success.

The following Nittany Lions are set to be recognized prior to Penn State's meeting with Michigan State on Saturday afternoon: Adrian Amos, Deshawn Baker, Brad Bars, Bill Belton, Drew Boyce, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor, T.J. Rhattigan, Tyrone Smith, Deron Thompson and Zach Zwinak.

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