This wasn't what they signed up for.
They arrived in Happy Valley four or five years ago with a few basic assumptions.
They would play for a coaching legend. They would go to a bowl game every season. And they would play for a program that boasted it achieved "success with honor."
That seems so long ago now.
The legendary head coach was fired under a cloud of controversy and died a few months later. The NCAA took away their bowl games. And the university's once-pristine image is now forever tainted.
Still, 17 senior football players stuck by Penn State when they had an opportunity to leave the school with absolutely no repercussions. Some of their teammates did just that.
But the 17 players who will be honored on Saturday decided to stand firm in their commitment to Penn State. They will be deservedly honored before Saturday's game at Beaver Stadium against Nebraska.
Among them will be Central York High School graduate Kyle Baublitz, who has decided to forego a fifth season at PSU to pursue a career as a history teacher.
Some of the other prominent seniors to be honored on Saturday are offensive lineman John Urschel, linebacker Glenn Carson and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones.
Urschel, in particular, has come to symbolize Penn State's long-time commitment to combining athletics and academics. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 300-pounder has NFL talent, but more importantly, he may be the most finest student to ever grace the PSU football program. He can legitimately be called a mathematical genius.
Urschel and the 16 other young men who are expected to be recognized on Saturday likely won't go down in PSU lore, like the 2012 class will. That group, led by Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich, is credited with rescuing the program when it was teetering on the brink of disintegration in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, the Freeh Report and the NCAA sanctions. The school has, rightfully, recognized the 2012 team, along with its other championship squads.
But that doesn't mean that the seniors on the 2013 team should be forgotten. They should get a rousing sendoff on Saturday.
After all, they played integral roles in the shockingly successful 8-4 season in 2012. And since their arrival, Penn State has enjoyed a winning record in each and every season.
A victory over Nebraska on Saturday will guarantee another winning season for PSU, which sits at 6-4 overall.
That borders on amazing considering the obstacles this group has had to overcome.
They deserve to be remembered as winners, both on and off the field.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dis patch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdis patch.com.