At halftime of Saturday’s Penn State home opener against Eastern Michigan — Penn State leads 17-7 — the school did something that has never been done before in the history of the football program. Penn State officially retired a number of a program legend, honoring John Cappelletti by retiring the No. 22.
Cappelletti won the 1973 Heisman Trophy and remains the only Penn State player to win college football’s highest individual honor. Cappelletti was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993 as well and still owns a handful of school records, for most rushing attempts in a single game and a season. Cappelletti left Penn State as the school’s second leading all-time rusher, although since he last played in college he and Lydell Mitchell have fallen down the list thanks in part to schedules being expanded and postseason games not being counted at the time.
The retiring of the number continues to show a new direction for Penn State football. Singling out a single player during Joe Paterno‘s career would have been frowned upon, perhaps. Bill O’Brien has clearly left a stamp on the program’s new direction but at the same time continues to embrace the history and tradition of the program.
Two players on Penn State’s roster are currently listed with the No. 22, running back Akeel Lynch and linebacker T.J. Rhattigan.
Update: A Penn State press release says the number will officially be retired after Lynch’s career at Penn State comes to an end. This was requested by Cappelletti.
Photo credit: Penn State Athletics