As the only former Penn State player on the Nittany Lions' coaching staff, Terry Smith was a key sounding board for James Franklin as the head coach was deciding whether to remove the names from the team's jerseys.
After the decision was made to nix the names, Smith turned out to be a key sounding board for many of his fellow PSU lettermen.
I can't tell you how many text messages and phone calls I've gotten today from former players and lettermen, Smith said. Guys are just ecstatic. Guys are like I feel like I'm connected again.
Then-coach Bill O'Brien added the names to the jerseys for the 2012 season as a way to honor the players who stuck with the program after the NCAA hit Penn State with harsh sanctions stemming from the Sandusky scandal. At the time, many former players were very vocal in their opposition to the names -- which they viewed as a slap against Joe Paterno's tradition of plain uniforms.
Now that the sanctions have all been removed or have expired, Franklin decided a return to that tradition was warranted.
Smith said former teammate and PSU All-American receiver O.J. McDuffie was happiest to hear the news.
He made the comment, 'Man, I'm so happy, I'm going to come up there next weekend,' Smith said. Guys are just ecstatic. This is a big moment in our history.
Smith said he understood why the names went on the jerseys and had no problem with it at the time. However, I'm clearly happy that the names are off the jerseys.
Smith still ranks No. 11 on Penn State's all-time receiving list, with 108 catches from 1988-91. Back then, he said, I was young and dumb and still chewing bubble gum.
As such, he didn't really get why Paterno insisted on the plain uniforms and black shoes -- which at the time were hardly in fashion. Now, however, he has a different appreciation for Paterno's policy.
I'm thankful and happy that he created this tradition, Smith said. I'm happy and thankful we're back to this tradition. We have 125 years of history to be proud of.