Among those I had a chance to visit with were the parents of Carmen Connolly, Tim Reed, and Steve Slaton. Although Slaton was unable to attend the game, his mother, father and brother came to the game to, in the words of his mother Juanita, "represent him and be here for him." With support like that, it's easy to see why Slaton is so thoughtful and well-spoken for a college freshman.
As the chopper flew over the stadium and then descended to hover just a few feet over the field, the wash from the giant rotor blew up a storm of the small bits of rubber that cushion the Field Turf surface of HersheyPark Stadium. The many people on the field, including the cheerleaders, media members and game workers, suddenly found out firsthand what it is like to be in a sandstorm in the Sahara Desert. The blasting continued for at least thirty seconds while the hot-dogging pilot continued his maneuver. In my book, it was just another reason to dislike Penn State.
Tucker (6-2, 235 lbs.) a big linebacker, drew some interest from WVU during his senior season, and is now headed for Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania. West Virginia is very familiar with that school, having taken a number of players from there over the years, including hard-hitting defensive back Shawn Hackett and offensive lineman Brock Holland. Tucker told BlueGoldNews.com that he is still interested in West Virginia, and hoped to hear from them in the future as his juco career progresses.
Hartung, who once tipped the scales at more than 450 pounds, was down to 380 for the game, in which he performed very well. Hartung had some monumental battles with Cincinnati-bound nose guard Terrill Byrd, who was the most highly acclaimed of the eight future Bearcats on the field.
Hartung will also be unavailable to Division I schools over the next two years, but for a different reason than Tucker. The massive lineman will take the next two years away from football to serve his Mormon mission in New Zealand.
"I'm still planning on dropping more weight while I complete my mission," said Hartung, who hopes to play at around 350 pounds when he returns to the United States. "At this point, I'm interested in anyone that will look at me. West Virginia had offered me a scholarship, so I will definitely be interested in them if they are still there."
If Hartung can maintain, or regain, the level of performance he showed in the Big 33 game, he would definitely be worth another look. He displayed good feet, especially for a man of his size, and obviously has no problems in the strength department. Mountaineer fans definitely want to file both of these names away for consideration in 2007.
Ismail even stepped in to help the Big 33 cheerleaders when they struggled with a slingshot designed to hurl rolled-up T-Shirts in the stands. When one girl couldn't quite get the hang of getting shirts airborne with the device, the Rocket sprang into action. He grabbed the sling and pulled it back so far that he toppled one of the high school boys holding an end of the slingshot to the ground. Amid much laughter, Ismail readjusted his draw and fired a bullet toward the top of the stands.