Bill O’Brien has brought in different speakers to address his team — a practice that the first-year Penn State coach will continue throughout the season — and it sounds like Rick Slater’s talk will be tough to top.
“He gave a tremendous speech and really, really motivated us and put things in perspective about what we can accomplish and what is riding on this season,” quarterback Matt McGloin said of Slater, who talked to the players last week. “He was one of the best speakers I’ve ever been in attendance for.”
That is not surprising considering Slater’s remarkable story.
The former Navy SEAL walked onto Penn State’s football team in the late 1990s and played on the 1999 team as a 30-year-old defensive tackle. Slater did not play much but he won a national championship as a heavyweight boxer in 2001. He re-enlisted following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and such dedication resonated with players that could have left Penn State after the NCAA slammed the football program with unprecedented sanctions.
“His dedication to his country and how much Penn State football truly meant to him, it’s great to see such a great person like that,” guard John Urschel said. “I was thoroughly impressed by the guy.”
– Scott Brown