PSU stars share memories of football and food
"Grilled stickies are something unique to Penn State. You can’t find them anywhere else quite like they do it there." – Paul Posluszny
If you win games and play hard, you’ll always be remembered by the legions of Nittany Lions fans across the country. But when the stars of the Nittany Lions are not on the field or in the weight room, they like to frequent all of the same places across Happy Valley that we all know and love.
We caught up with five former Penn State stars to find out their favorite on-field memories and their favorite places to eat and hang out in and around Happy Valley.
#33 Jack Ham, Linebacker – 1968-70
Over his three seasons in State College, the NFL and College Football Hall of Fame linebacker helped lead his Nittany Lions teams to a 29-3 record. As a senior co-captain in 1970, Jack Ham had 91 tackles, four interceptions and three blocked punts.
While the Penn State legend still gets to take in game day from the booth as an analyst for the Penn State Sports Network, he misses playing for the fans at Beaver Stadium the most. His most memorable game from his playing days was the January 1, 1970 Orange Bowl that pitted the #2 Nittany Lions against the Missouri Tigers. It should come as no surprise that one of the best defensive players in college football and NFL history would remember one of the most dominating displays in Nittany Lion history. The Nittany Lions won 10-3 — holding a Missouri team that scored five touchdowns per game to a single field goal while intercepting a mind-boggling seven passes. The win secured an undefeated, 11-0 season.
When Jack Ham was a student at Penn State, his favorite hangout was the Lion’s Den at 118 South Garner Street. When he heads back to town nowadays, Ham opts for The Tavern at 220 East College Ave.
#31 Paul Posluszny, Linebacker – 2003-06
Paul Posluszny is one of the most awarded Penn State players of all time and, if you asked Jack Ham, the greatest linebacker to ever play at Penn State. Posluszny was a two-time winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player; a Butkus Award winner for the nation’s top linebacker; a two-time first team All American; and a two-time team captain.
Since being drafted in 2007, Posluszny has played 10 seasons for the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars — but nothing compares to the feeling at Penn State.
“The passion that is associated with college football — you are playing for your teammates, your family, your school,” Posluszny said. “Growing up in Pennsylvania and then playing at Penn State, you feel like you are playing for the entire state of Pennsylvania.”
Posluszny’s most memorable game is also often cited as one of Penn State’s greatest games — the thrilling 2005 win at home against Ohio State.
“Most memorable game, hands down, was in 2005. We were playing Ohio State at home. It was a night game, and they were highly ranked and so were we,” Posluszny added. “We ended up beating them late in the fourth quarter. The stadium was packed, electric atmosphere. It was hands down the best environment I have ever been a part of.”
When Posluszny was a student at Penn State, he would frequent the Lion’s Den. When he goes back to town now, he likes to go to The Deli at 113 Hiester Street and to Ye Olde College Diner at 126 West College Avenue for the famous grilled sticky buns.
“I love desserts, and grilled stickies are something that are unique to Penn State,” Posluszny said. “You can’t find them anywhere else quite like they do it there.”
#8 Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver – 2011-13
Currently a teammate of Paul Posluszny on the Jacksonville Jaguars, wide receiver Allen Robinson made some of the most memorable catches in Penn State history and rewrote the receiving record books during his sophomore and junior seasons.
“My most memorable game and moment was the Michigan game — four overtimes and my catch,” Robinson stated.
It was the catch that no Penn State fan will ever forget: a 36-yard pass to the one-yard line where Robinson, with 27 seconds left in regulation, set up the game-tying score. The Nittany Lions went on to win 43-40 in the fourth overtime. And even though he’s become a star in the NFL, Robinson still misses playing at Penn State.
“I miss playing with a lot of my close friends and playing with some of the guys that I came in with when I was recruited,” Robinson said. “You build a strong relationship with those guys through being recruited and then when you step on the field. And definitely playing in front of 107,000 fans.”
Robinson also liked to hang out at the Lion’s Den, but the restaurant he still longs for is Wings Over Happy Valley at 244 W. Hamilton Avenue.
“Even though I don’t visit it, it visits me.”
#11 Matt McGloin, Quarterback, 2008-2012
Quarterback Matt McGloin was under center for some of the biggest milestones of Joe Paterno’s career and then went on to break a number of records during Coach Bill O’Brien’s first year in 2012. McGloin, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, was the first walk-on quarterback to start at Penn State since scholarships were reinstated in 1949 and ended his career at Penn State with a school record 46 touchdowns – a record recently eclipsed by Christian Hackenberg.
“There were a lot of great memories and moments as a Penn State player, from my first start against Michigan to Joe’s 400th win,” McGloin recalled, “but I have to say that my last game against Wisconsin is my most memorable. It was a great way to end my career with an overtime win at home.”
The 24-21 overtime win helped the Nittany Lions finish 8-4 in 2012, a very special season for McGloin and his teammates.
“I miss the stadium; I miss the bus ride over on game days; I miss playing football with my PSU teammates,” McGloin said. “I was fortunate to play with a lot of great players, but to be a part of that 2012 senior class was very special. We weren’t just teammates, we were good friends as well, so I miss playing football with those guys.”
When he gets back to Happy Valley these days, McGloin always gets something to eat at The Deli.
“I’m a big fan of The Deli, but there are so many great places, it is hard to pick just one,” McGloin said. “There is a lot of great food downtown and so many good stores.”
#14 Anthony Morelli, Quarterback – 2004-07
Anthony Morelli was one of the top recruited high school quarterbacks when he arrived on campus at Penn State, and went on to break a number of passing records during his career. He played a number of memorable games, including a 31-10 romp of Notre Dame at Beaver Stadium in 2007, but his best game memory was the Jan. 1, 2007 Outback Bowl upset win over the Tennessee Volunteers.
“I miss the atmosphere and playing in front of 107,000 fans,” Morelli said. “It was unbelievable; the fans are fantastic and they travel well. That experience is something I try to share with the guys I train now, but you can never really understand it until you feel that feeling.”
Morelli currently runs a training facility, X Factor Sports Performance in Indianapolis, that works on speed, agility and position work. When Morelli was at Penn State, he frequented Rotelli with his wife – but the Italian restaurant closed their doors last September. Besides Rotelli, Morelli’s favorite spot was always The Waffle Shop at 364 E. College Avenue.
“The Waffle Shop is always a place that I stop at when we are in State College,” Morelli said. “I could eat there all day, every day. Everything is just awesome."