Neglecting The Standard: Penn State Football Players Aren’t Tweeting About Class Anymore

It was a time-honored tradition.

A new group of Penn State football players would arrive on campus, go to their first class, and show off their dedication on the internet. The players arrive 20 to 30 minutes early before class, sit in the first row, and tweet at James Franklin that they are “setting the standard.”

We here at Onward State have always featured these classroom warriors. We’ve highlighted these posts for years. But this semester’s group let us down. This group of Nittany Lions neglected to share their conquests of academia with the world.

Punter Ryan Barker deserves some props. He was one of few players that we could find that showed up to his first class to #setthestandard. He truly was setting the standard in the front row, showing up at least 11 minutes early to his class at 8 a.m. Plus, he got to show off the lower thigh tattoo, which is always cool.

Unfortunately, Barker’s teammates were not as publicly eager to learn. Aside from the rare but possible exceptions that we might’ve missed, no other Nittany Lions announced that they were sitting in the front of their 8 a.m. classroom. It’s a devastating tragedy that threatens to destroy a tradition that’s been passed down from football player to football player. Tweeting about an 8 a.m. class is just as important as showing up to a 5 a.m. lift, and the Penn State football roster just didn’t get there this time around.

Sure, there may be a reason for this. Perhaps the entire football team didn’t have a class until Tuesday morning, so there was no standard to be set on Monday. Maybe Twitter crashed for the entire group just as they were about to post about their excellence in the classroom.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to be generous to those who are supposed to set the standard of excellence at Penn State. If these guys can’t tweet that they aren’t in the front row showing up for class at 8 a.m., how can Penn Staters expect them to be in the front row accepting a Big Ten Championship trophy?

This could be entirely inconsequential, too. Maybe it’s a good thing that Penn State football players aren’t glued to their phones and feel the need to tweet about every activity that they participate in. Still, they are removing themselves from the student community around them.

The common stereotype around Division I football players was always that they never went to class or cared about their grades, but these tweets often assuaged those doubts over the years. Now, the Penn State community may fear that Barker is the only “academic weapon” left on Franklin’s squad.

Fellow Penn State students, don’t be discouraged by this. Just because Malik McClain isn’t tweeting about showing up to class early doesn’t mean that you can’t. Go to that 8 a.m. proudly. Tweet that you’re in the front row and better than everyone else. You can be the change that this campus needs. You are who we can look to when the light of the Penn State football team has gone dark.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a senior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He writes about everything Penn State, especially its 10-2 football team. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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