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Players Briefly Celebrate Monday, But Are Back To Work On Tuesday

At a little before three o’clock yesterday, Mike Hull was eating lunch at Chick-fil-A with teammates Jesse Della Valle and Brad Bars.

As he serendipitously checked his Twitter, he came across some shocking news: the NCAA has cut back its sanctions, allowing Penn State to once again appear in bowl games.

Seconds later Hull received a text from head coach James Franklin, summoning the senior linebacker and his teammates to an emergency meeting.

“We were pretty excited,” said Hull. “We have the opportunity to play in a bowl game.”

For Hull, who nearly left the program through an unrestricted transfer after the NCAA levied sanctions against the program in 2012, yesterday’s announcement was admittedly a surprise.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting it to happen,” he said. “I was just expecting to ride it out and play for each other, play for the Penn State community. The whole thing has been a roller coaster ride, a lot of ups and downs. Yesterday brought the whole thing full circle.”

“I just love Penn State, love the school, love everything about it. I’m just a Penn State guy at heart.”

Even before yesterday, Hull’s commitment to stay has paid off. Through two games, his 22 tackles lead the team. Anthony Zettel and Jordan Lucas have the second most — at nine each.

Other players echoed Hull’s sentiments, saying the news served as a moment of celebration, albeit an extremely brief one.

“We got a message from Coach saying we have a meeting at three o’clock,” said wide receiver Geno Lewis. “He just told us that everything we were reading was accurate, the sanctions were being lifted. We just got really excited.”

“No one broke down, but we know what we’ve all been through,” said center Angelo Mangiro, also one of 49 players who elected to stay at Penn State in 2012. “The highs and lows, for just a little bit we hugged each other and said congrats.”

But as soon as the news came, it was back to Rutgers preparation. Franklin, his coaching staff, and the rest of the team honored the 49 players who rode out the sanctions, and then moved on.

“The rest of the team gave them a standing ovation and told them how much respect they have for them,” Mangiro said. “But we’re going back to the same approach which is ‘one day at a time, one game at a time.'”

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Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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