Lions' Latest Big 33 Kicker

HERSHEY – State College kicker Collin Wagner admits he didn't pay too much attention to the Big 33 football game until Pennsylvania head coach Mark Schmidt gave him a call. Then it finally sunk in for the future PSU walk-on.

Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium, Wagner will get the chance to help Pennsylvania snap their three game slump against Ohio when he kicks for the keystone state team in the 49th annual Big 33 Football Classic, kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Wagner, who will walk-on at Penn State, is the fourth Nittany Lions kicker to appear in the game this decade. Kevin Kelly kicked for PA last year, and before him, Robbie Gould and David Kimball kicked in 2001 and 2000 respectively. Kimball also graduated from State College high school.

Before the recent group of future Penn State kickers, legendary Nittany Lions Matt Bahr and Craig Fayak also kicked for Pennsylvania in the all-star contest.

"To follow in the footsteps of those guys, it's just an honor," Wagner said.

Wagner's appearance in the all-star game marks the first time since 2001 that State College high school has a representative in the game. That year quarterback Chris Ganter helped lead Pennsylvania to a thrilling 31-29 victory over Ohio.

"There are a lot of guys at our high school that were worthy of making this game. It feels good," Wagner said.

Wagner helped his Little Lions team by connecting on 40 extra points and seven field goals as State College went 9-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the PIAA state playoffs last season.

When he arrives on Penn State's campus later this summer, he will get the chance to compete against Kelly who had a tremendous freshman campaign that included his game winning field goal against Florida State in the Orange Bowl back in January.

The 5'10, 170-pound Wagner expects to learn a lot just by watching Kelly.

"I don't have any intentions on starting, based on what Kevin accomplished last year," Wagner said. "Hopefully I can just push him a little bit and make him better."

"They haven't said anything about red-shirting yet," Wagner added. "I'm just going to go in, try to do my best and see what happens."

Wagner will also handle punting and kickoff duties as the only kicker on the Pennsylvania roster. His kickoffs have been averaging around 70-yards and his strong leg allows him to hit field goals from 50-plus yards. As for punting?

"I'm not going to be doing that in college," Wagner joked.

Above all else, Wagner is enjoying the time he has spent with future teammates such as Pat Devlin. In total, six Penn State players will take part in Saturday's game.

"It's great to meet some of them. You read the stuff online about some of them and you get to read some of the publicity they get and how well they are doing in high school and you finally get to meet them."

With a little luck, Wagner may start a new trend of State College players involved in the game. Fellow Little Lion and Penn State verbal commitment Nate Stupar could make the contest next summer.

"State High's been doing really well in football the last couple of years, and for us to not have a guy in this game (for a couple of years) was kind of disappointing. I worked really hard last summer, over the fall and this winter and it's something I wanted to do."

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