Reasons to smile in Happy Valley

We Are

The significance of beating #2 Ohio State was more than just about winning a big conference game and handing Urban Meyer an unexpected loss – it was proclamation that the Nittany Lions are back! 

The most difficult games on the 2016 schedule are behind them – which means PSU is highly likely to win out and finish the season with only 2 losses. If that actually happens they’ll finish the season in the top 10.  And the team would be welcoming in a talented batch of 2017 recruits into a program with more momentum they’ve had in recent memory. 


One of the new recruits everyone is excited about is 4 star quarterback Sean Clifford.  


Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

School: St. Xavier High

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 200

Rating: 4 stars

I had the opportunity to briefly chat with Sean and here are some snippets from our interview.

Q: Who’s your biggest influence when it comes to football?

A: My dad, John Clifford

Q: What’s your major going to be at Penn State in the fall?

A: Undecided

Q: Which NFL team would you like to play for?

A: Miami Dolphins

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Unfortunately Sean didn’t have much time to chat, but we hope to catch back up with him some time soon.  In the meantime, you can stay in the loop by following him on Twitter @seancliff13


CJ Thorpe is another commit I had the chance to chat with.  We mostly talked about the life of a legacy at Penn State and it made me realize how much of a tight-knit community Happy Valley must be.

Penn State has the most loyal fanbase in college football and I’m not even a Penn State fan, so you know there must be some merit to that statement. The legacies at PSU have raised their families to be Penn State families and in CJ Thorpe’s case –  that saved the recruiters a lot of time and energy.  

In this age of fickle 4 star recruits – who commit to one school and visit their rival the following week and then change their mind on signing day – it must feel like a blessing to have CJ Thorpe as one of your incoming 4 star football recruits.

CJ Thorpe


Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

High School: Central Catholic

Position: OG

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 310

Rating: 4 stars

CJ Thorpe is the son of Chris Thorpe, running back for PSU in the 1980’s.  Even though Chris’ injury prevented him from going to the NFL he stayed passionate about the sport and made sure his family felt as much of a part of the Happy Valley community as he did. The sense of family and community at Penn State makes the “We Are”chant particularly fitting for the school.

CJ grew up going to games, spring practices and was basically immersed in Happy Valley culture for as long as he can remember.  Ever since he was a kid he wanted to play in Beaver Stadium and who can blame him.  Unless you’ve actually been to a game, one can only imagine the type of impression that could make on the son of a former player. 

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Beaver Stadium has a record attendance of over 110,000 people

We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and Beaver Stadium is literally the 3rd biggest stadium in the world, so metaphorically speaking – when you combine the head count of fans in attendance and the magnitude of the actual structure – it becomes symbolic of how big your family and your house is.   

Needless to say – CJ felt like he was a member of the massive Penn State family and loved how big their house was! It’s an easy thing to want to be a part of, especially for a kid from Pennsylvania.  


Every recruit wants to play for a winning team and simply walking into their stadium is like standing inside a trophy case.  Their winning tradition is impossible to ignore because it’s not a plaque – the entire stadium is a monument to decades of excellence.  Penn State is one of the top 10 most winningest programs in history and has racked up an astounding 7 undefeated seasons.


I recently had the opportunity to interview CJ and here are some of the highlights:

Q: Do you have a nickname?

A: “Some people call me Savage, but mostly just CJ”

Q: What’s your major going to be at Penn State in the fall?

A: “I want to study some form of pre-law, but I haven’t officially picked a major yet”

Q: Who’s your biggest influence when it comes to football?

A: “My dad, who played at PSU”

Q: What made you chose Penn State over other schools?

A:  “The way my dad raised me helped me choose PSU over other schools because I know the tradition there and have seen it”

Q: As an offensive lineman your job is to protect your teammates, is there a time that stands out to you – when you made a last second block that saved a teammate from getting crushed?

A: “Yeah there have been a few times, but I remember one time in particular, they brought a blitz and I blocked the end but then a backer came off the edge and almost crushed the QB so I had to adjust, got myself in position and saved him last minute.”

Q: Which NFL team would you like to play for?

A: “Ideally I want to play for the Steelers, but to be completely honest I’d probably play for the team willing to pay the most. After all football is a business”

We look forward to seeing CJ Thorpe carry on tradition at Penn State and in the meantime you can follow him on Twitter @Truk_Savage

All images were from CC no attribution required or from the players social media accounts with his wrtten permission.

Penn state logo: By Penn State University [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lion statue By CyberXRef (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Stadium panaramic picture: Sbvr6 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


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