The life of a college freshman is full of awkward transitions, embarking on new adventures, and gaining personal and educational strengths. Being a freshman football player at one of the most tradition-rich and acclaimed universities doubles the stakes in a freshman’s journey.
Added-on pressures, balancing schedules, practice, class, homework, team meetings, games and even down time can really take a toll on a young student-athlete. I sat down with freshman defensive back, Mike Wallace, to gain some insight on another Penn State footballer’s Freshman Adjustment.
Name: Mike Wallace
Hometown: Silver Spring
High School: Our Lady of Good Counsel
I know you’ve had this asked a million times, what made you choose Penn State through your recruiting process?
I felt it was though fate brought me here. It wasn't until a couple weeks before signing day I even got my offer from Penn State; They discovered me late in the game.
Also, Penn State had always been in my family, my cousin graduated from PSU in '96.
He played for JoePa and went to play in the NFL for seven years.
What other schools were you considering? Any particular reasons why?
Stanford, because it was my first Division-1 offer and outstanding academics.
Did anything specific about PSU and the football program stick out to you on your official visit?
Despite it being negative five degrees when I stepped on campus, there's something about the atmosphere that drew me in.
What were your initial feelings the first day of classes?
When fall came, I stepped in the Thomas Building, class 100, and almost fainted. I was waiting for the professor to say, "Okay so we are gonna split the class, half of you will be in this class, that class." But he just continues to teach and I realized, this class is as big as my high school!
Do you have a favorite course?
I switched out of the major that my classes are directed toward. So, half my classes I don't take much interest in, but my BBH classes are really fun and interesting.
In your opinion, is the work more difficult or complex than high school?
I don't think so. There's more pressure to do well because in some classes there are only four tests that make up your entire grade. But in high school there were a lot of other opportunities to bounce back if you messed up.
How about the adjustment from high school football to the NCAA?
I don't think anything can prepare you to go from high school to playing in front of a hundred thousand people. The speed, size, and skill level is drastically different but you adapt.
How different is your hometown from that of Happy Valley?
My home town is a lot more diverse, but the people here are genuinely friendly.
Is it difficult for you to sit along the sidelines on game day?
It is because I want to be out there so bad, but I have to keep the big picture in mind.
When I see Derek Moye and Daryll Clark (both red-shirts) out there doing their thing, it reassures how patience is a virtue and the outcome will come in time.
Did you enjoy your first game-day experience in Beaver Stadium? How did it feel?
it was unreal to me.. it was my first Penn State game ever.
its hard for me to believe I've actually gotten use to the crazy amounts of people.
Any crazy PSU fan stories?
Haha. None I would like to share.
How does it feel to be coached by the legendary coach, Joe Paterno?
It's funny because I'm slowly realizing how great it is because I was pretty ill-informed of his legacy until I got here. He is the man though.
What do you individually bring to the PSU Football team?
I think I bring leadership to the team by my performance on and off the team. I don't have specific "clicks" on the team so I think I relate to everyone.