Despite a strong showing, Penn State football was unable to defeat men’s football for the THON Pep Rally title. Even still, the performance was outstanding across the board.
For the most part, the performance probably came across as a simple addition to the Pep Rally proceedings. But for the trained eye, there was plenty of important material to parse and unpack.
The Pep Rally, in reality, offered a glimpse behind coach James Franklin’s curtain as the players showed off their athleticism, chemistry and willingness to adhere to team mantras. As tradition dictates, Franklin’s team representatives were relatively new to the team. Here are some of our biggest takeaways:
Suits to match
The football team‘s attire was the first significant attribute of their performance. Of course, players wore their shirts with unique numbers, but other than that there were very few deviations from a common uniform.
About 10 players wore long sleeves under their shirts, sweatpants, sunglasses and neck warmers that covered half their faces. Clearly, this indicated that the team had bought into Penn State’s message: no one is greater than the team. Black shoes, basic blues, no names, all game.
The Nittany Lions’ decision to mask their individuality is an encouraging sign for unit cohesion next year.
How many players can perform a backflip?
Wide receiver Harrison Wallace III, cornerback Kalen King and safety Jaylen Reed all showed off their acrobatic prowess in the team’s performance by performing at least one backflip.
It was an unexpected development – which begs the question: how many players can do backflips? How much other the players have hidden talents?
Versatility is an important quality that any solidly designed list must possess. The ability of so many players in different positions to successfully accomplish sporting feats is a good sign. That said, no matter who the staff put in the queue, someone can do the job.
Kalen King’s near miss
Late in the dance, second Kalen King attempted an assisted turnaround with a teammate. There was some sort of misunderstanding, enough that King wasn’t able to fully work it out.
What could have been a scary moment ended up being a positive. King avoided injury when his teammate heroically adjusted his momentum and cushioned his fall in a softer way.
In the face of adversity, this team will leave no one behind. The bond between these players is palpable and conducive to a positive outing on the gridiron.
Jaylen Reed can (and wants) to dance
Besides being able to do backflips, Jaylen Reed can dance with the best of them.
This is exactly the type of attitude needed from a security. Safeties are the last line of defense for a team, if they are not ready to mistake it for an opposing attack they are not able to do the job. Jaylen Reed released a statement Saturday night: He’s not afraid to dance.
At one point, Reed covered his face and impressively hit a series of energetic dance moves, taking his statement one step further. He can do it with his eyes closed. Big Ten offenses beware.