Few players in college football have a more interesting story of how they landed on their respective roster than Penn State’s Immanuel Iyke.
Iyke grew up in Nigeria and enlisted in the Marines out of high school. While in the Marines, he watched Penn State narrowly lose to Ohio State in 2014 from his barracks in Japan. Iyke, now a defensive lineman, detailed how that made him fall in love with the Nittany Lions.
He explained his full, interesting back story in an essay with the Players’ Tribune titled “Lion’s Pride.”
“But as the game unfolded, something interesting happened. I found myself gradually pulling for the Nittany Lions,” he wrote. “I think what started it was the crowd at Beaver Stadium. It was the first time I’d ever seen a White Out before, and it looked nuts. It was like a gigantic party. You could almost feel the stadium shaking through the TV.”
“I found myself quietly cheering with them. I wanted Penn State to score so I could see that stadium go crazy. By the time the fourth quarter came around, I was jumping up and down and pumping my fist every time Penn State made a play. The team clearly had a lot of heart. They were easy to root for.”
Iyke made his Penn State debut on Nov. 26 in a blowout win over Michigan State. Penn State fans probably know Iyke best from the Nittany Lions game against Iowa on Nov. 5 when he led the team out of the tunnel with an American flag on Military Appreciation Day.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) November 5, 2016