Penn State has made an important tweak to its uniforms for senior day, and this change will help bring an historic season to a fitting end.
No. 42 will appear on the left side of every helmet in honor of senior leader Michael Mauti. Tony Mancuso, Penn State’s assistant director of athletic communications, shared a photo of the helmet via Twitter, and Jeff Nelson, the school’s assistant athletic director, put the gesture in historical context:
#PennState last wore numbers on side of helmet in 1974. Win over Baylor in 1975 Cotton Bowl last game prior to today— Jeff Nelson (@GoPSUJeff) November 24, 2012
The senior linebacker suffered a left knee injury last week against Indiana that will keep him out of the Nittany Lions’ season finale against Wisconsin.
The linebacker was immensely valuable to the Nittany Lions both on and off the field. He racked up 95 tackles while also forcing three fumbles and intercepting three passes.
But he also provided incredible leadership to a team that could have easily devolved into turmoil without a presence like him.
Penn State faced intense scrutiny and uncertainty heading into this season. This was the first time since 1965 that Joe Paterno did not lead the team, and the Nittany Lions were also dealing with all the effects of the harsh sanctions that were place on the program in response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
With several talented players opting to transfer out of Happy Valley and no hope for a bowl birth or a conference championship, new coach Bill O’Brien preached togetherness, and Mauti loudly echoed that message.
He is a vital reason that the Nittany Lions have won seven games this season, and it is truly a shame that he has to finish his career on the sidelines. While this must be hugely disappointing for him, his number on the left side of Penn State's helmets is an excellent show of appreciation.
His contribution to the Penn State football program has been invaluable, and this is a truly classy gesture by the team.