Penn State linebacker Hull in final home game
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Penn State linebacker Mike Hull has a lot of stored-up memories between his first game in 2011 and his last regular-season game on Saturday.
And there were as many off the field as on it.
Hull played for five coaches, weathered the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and resulting NCAA sanctions and struggled through a nagging knee injury in 2013.
He’s been invited to play in the Senior Bowl but not before a game Saturday against No. 10 Michigan State and a likely bowl game.
He says he not thinking about his home finale – it’s too much.
”I’ve thought about it a little bit, but it hasn’t really hit me,” Hull said. ”I don’t think it will until I’m out there with my family and with my teammates for the last time. But it’s going to be a special day on Saturday, and I just want to leave it all out on the field for my last game at Beaver Stadium.”
That attitude has impressed first-year coach James Franklin, who arrived at Penn State after Joe Paterno (46 years), Tom Bradley (3 games), Bill O’Brien (2 years) and Larry Johnson (interim for a few days).
Franklin says Hull sticking with the program was important, and he’s an example of a strong ambassador for the program.
”Mike Hull is a great example of that,” Franklin said. ”Hard-working, blue-collared, humble, appreciative of everything that he stands for and everything this program is about as well.”
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who began coaching Hull in January, said he will miss Hull.
”I can’t even begin to tell you,” Shoop said. ”He gave our staff credibility. He gave us a complete buy-in right away and when he did, all the other guys did right away.”
Shoop said Hull’s work ethic has been strong from winter training to throughout the season.
”He’s been as consistent a person as I ever been around,” Shoop said. ”And he’s certainly been as consistent and productive a player as there’s been in the 2014 college season.”
Hull has 121 tackles this season and 275 for his career. He needs a dozen more to move into the No. 6 spot all time at Penn State.
That won’t be easy against the Spartans, Hull said.
”I think if we win Saturday we can prove that we’re better than what our record (6-5,2-5 Big Ten) shows, especially on defense,” Hull said. ”If we hold this high-powered offense in check, we can show and finally gain a little respect that we haven’t gotten all year.”
He called Saturday’s game against the Spartans (9-2, 6-1) ”a great challenge in a special atmosphere.”
And his advice to his younger teammates is simple.
”If you’re good to the game, the game’s going to be good to you,” Hull said.