Penn State’s Zettel on playing after father’s death: ‘That’s what he would want’

Anthony Zettel played with a heavy heart after his father passed away.
Matthew OHaren/Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to the media for the first time since his father passed away roughly two weeks ago, Penn State defensive tackle Anthony Zettel thanked his family and teammates for providing a wonderful support group in a difficult time. 

"I think that really takes the edge off everything," he said Tuesday.

Zettel made headlines by taking the field Sept. 26 against San Diego State just one day after his father, Terry, succumbed to a long battle with cancer. The younger Zettel led the team with 2.5 tackles of loss that day and logged a career-high seven tackles overall. He also recovered a fumble and knocked down an Aztec pass. 

"It was an emotional little spurt for me there, but at the same time that’s what he would want," Zettel said. "When I would come home and he was going through chemo sessions, he would be telling me to get back to college and go do your thing because sitting here with me, you’re not doing anything you want to do and bettering yourself.

"I think me not playing that game was not even a question, you know, I’m playing that game no matter what, for him and for my career, too. That’s what he would want me to do.

"I couldn’t have any better support from my teammates and my coaches. Also, from my friends, family and everybody in the community in general. I’ve gotten thousands of letters and everything from people, and it really shows you the support that Penn State has toward their student-athletes." 

He thanked coach James Franklin for giving him a lot of leeway for going to see his father as he went through treatments and said he last saw him when the Nittany Lions opened the season against Temple in Philadelphia on Sept. 5. 

"I got to go up and see him at the hotel, and that moment will stay with me forever," Zettel said.

MORE NEWS: Want stories delivered to you? Sign up for our College Football newsletters.