Considering where we were less than five years ago, I’m still a little amused when that old doom-and-gloom rears its head over something as simple as a de-commit or two, or that cockamamie thing called the ‘transfer portal’ that started beating its chest at Nittany Nation this past spring. We of all fan bases should know better. If Bill O’Brien had to crisscross the region convincing PA kids to help an old friend out and we survived, then surely our fate is in good hands with the ‘Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart’ in James Franklin. That’s a fact, even if we haven’t quite yet reached the mountaintop we’re so thirsty for.

Imagine if Joe had to deal with the newfound Twitter-verse that we now live in? We all know that would have driven him bonkers. I say that with a smile like I’m reminiscing about my Grandad or a favorite uncle. Joe Paterno was family, and so is Sue and all their kids. We grew up with them and watched their family grow like we were watching our own. Some of us might have even conned our actual Grandad into driving by the Paterno home more times than he should have just to get a chance to see them outside and say ‘hi’ before he finally put his foot down and said no more. But that’s a story for another day. I know you get my point because we all lived it one way or another for so many years together, as family.

So here I am on a busier-than-normal day that also happens to be KJ Hamler’s birthday. Just as the day was winding down, up popped Tee Tee and Thomas, KJ’s parents and clearly the reason #1 is so full of life, ripping off another instant classic as they rapped and danced their son a ‘Happy Birthday’ like only they can. This was the third year in a row the Michigan-natives set our Happy Valley hearts into a frenzy and this time around, they swear they dropped that mic for good! Only time will tell on that, but as anyone that follows social media knows, the Hamler’s have become family to us. As were the McSorley’s, the Gesicki’s, and the McGovern’s became before them. You can directly thank James Franklin for that and I love him for it.

After six years and some crazy off-seasons (this one maybe topping them all), it’s clear as day the man values character in a kid as much as anything he brings to the table athletically. True to his tweets, each time another makes the choice to join this family of blue and white, “We ARE….Better.” It’s just as much, if not more for the family that let us come along for the ride, as it is actually watching the son, nephew, brother, or cousin grow into the Lion he’s destined to become.

It was officially announced that seniors John Reid, Cam Brown, and Blake Gilliken, three Nittany Lions chock full of that character in which we pride ourselves, will accompany FrankLion to Big Ten Media Days later this month and the 2019 Lift For Life is ready to rock and roll on Friday night. In short, it’s mid-summer and it’s all starting to get real again as we round the corner into August and preseason camp. For three years running, the Hamler’s have been a sparkling reminder that no matter how bleak it may seem at times, change isn’t always bad.

A quarterback battle looms on the horizon. Some doubt and unknown surround a squad with holes to fill. Talent like we haven’t seen (at least collectively) since the D. Williams, M-Rob, and Poz days, in my opinion. As another topsy-turvy off-season is slowly winding down, leave it up to our old friend and family JayPa to reassure us with a quote from his Dad yesterday: “What matters most in sports is not the victory, but the magnificence of the struggle.” Our struggle has been magnificent at times, but with a family like ours to lean on over the years, victory remains ever so sweet!

Eric Herrold was born in State College and has bled Penn State Blue and White ever since. He is currently the proud owner/coordinator of the rapidly growing Facebook fanpage Nittany Nation, as well as a member of Success With Honor, the non-profit charitable organization. Eric currently resides in Richmond, Virginia spreading Penn State cheer and goodwill to all that will listen!

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