Given the nature of the story, we felt it made sense to present it as free material here on our web site a couple of weeks ago. You can see the story at this link.
As a complement to that piece, we recently talked to Spencer Ridenhour specifically about his family situation. The Q&A starts below.
FOS: What is it like for your family with your father serving in Iraq?
SPENCER RIDEHOUR: It's a day-to-day struggle. My mom is handling it pretty well. I talked to my dad before he left, he told me, you're getting ready to go back to school, and you can't let this get in the way of what you have to do as far as training and classes. Don't get me wrong, I miss him a lot. But I try not to let that get in the way of what I have to do. It's all in God's hands. He's over there, and I'm going to be strong for him and try to give my mother support. That's how I cope with it.
FOS: How difficult has been on your mom considering you are an only child? She's at home holding everything together.
SR: With him being away, I give her a lot of support. I love her so much and it makes me appreciate her even more because she's home by herself. She's worried about me and my dad. For one woman to go through that is a heck of a challenge. I give her all the praise in the world.
FOS: You have a strong military background in your family. How has that helped you?
SR: It's helped me a lot through the years. Every day is a challenge, just getting out there to get better at everything, and knowing you're not there yet as far as football goes. I'm not near where I think I'm going to be soon. Just having the drive and discipline and knowing I can get better at everything, whether it be in the classroom or on the field, in the weight room, even socially, just being an all-around man. It helps with that.
FOS: Your dad is obviously a dangerous guy. Does anyone ever mess with him?
SR: He's not like that. He doesn't give people a reason to be afraid of him. It's more respect. I have respect for you as a man, and it goes back and forth.
FOS: Your dad is scheduled to make it back for two games this season. How exciting will that be?
SR: It's going to be rewarding more than exciting. It's going to be a blessing that he's going to be able to get back. Just talking to him through e-mail and my mother talking to him on the phone, he's so excited he can't wait. It's going to be a real rewarding day for him to come back and see his son trying his best.
FOS: You played defensive back in high school. You played linebacker in the spring at Penn State and in summer workouts. Where will you be this fall?
SR: People have been asking me that. All I say is, it's up to the big man, it's up to Joe [Paterno]. He has his vision of what he wants to do with his players. If he says, Spencer, I need you to do a job, I'll do that. It's not really my place to say linebacker or whatever the case may be. It's really up to the big man. Whatever he has me doing I'll give it 100 percent.
The Ultimate PSU Package for the Ultimate PSU Fan: Under $100!
Enter Code: TTLPSUTIX05