Looking back on his five years at Penn State, Mike Yancich's career as a Nittany Lion didn't play out the way he had planned it at all.
As highly-regarded as teammates MIchael Mauti and Michael Zordich coming out of Trinity High School in Washington, Pa., in 2008, Yancich played in 44 games but did not once crack the Nittany Lions' starting lineup.
So when he heard his name called by Bill O'Brien as the team's Special Teams captain for the season at the pregame meal on Saturday morning at Toftrees, he was a bit taken aback.
"He named off the offensive captains, the defensive captains and I was completely caught off guard," Yancich said after the game. "I think I was drinking water at the time and he said my name. I just stopped for a second. I turned to Mike Hull and said, 'Did he just say my name?' He said, 'Yeah, congratulations.' It's a surreal feeling."
The fifth-year senior had a few opportunities to leave Penn State, most recently when the NCAA allowed players to transfer to another school without penalty. Yancich did not take them up on their offer, however. Involved with an active social life that included a three-year run as an officer in Penn State's 'Uplifting Athletes' program, he could not leave State College behind.
"I always loved Penn State, I always wanted to stay. It wasn't just the football program, it was the people, the students, the social life which was just amazing and second to none. It really was a no brainer to stay all those times. I knew that even though I wasn't playing as much as I wanted to play, I was still having the time of my life."
Yancich made his mark on special teams this year, recording 15 tackles and hopping on top of a loose ball in the end zone after a blocked punt against Ohio State. It was in the third facet that he was able to help out some of the younger players that were just getting adjusted to the college game.
"I just really thank the coaching staff for putting me in a position where I could lead," he said. "Obviously that wasn't at linebacker, because we were just loaded with talent this year, and talent that was better than me. It was great that they saw something in me. They were able to put me in that position to ultimately be a leader."
Joining classmates Matt McGloin, Zordich, Mauti and Jordan Hill, Yancich will go down as one of five captains in what is arguably Penn State's most memorable senior class.
"Every one of these seniors deserves to be a captain. I just feel so lucky to be picked as one of those five to lead."