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thedrifter
12-12-05, 07:36 AM
Taberna man has Penn State pedigree
December 12,2005
BY Jeremy Slayton
Sun Journal Staff

Ed Stuckrath sits in the immaculate den of his Taberna home and talks without hesitation about his eventful life.

The words flow easily as he talks about his football career at Penn State and then about his career in the military.

Stuckrath, a native of Baltimore, played for the Nittany Lions in the early 1960s when legendary coach Joe Paterno was just an assistant. Stuckrath's love for his alma mater has not waned since he left University Park.

He proudly flies a Penn State flag from the deck of his home along the seventh fairway at Taberna Country Club. He added with a laugh that during the past few years - Penn State had four losing seasons in the last six years - that he had to take his flag down.

"I never lost faith in Penn State and the quality coaching staff," Stuckrath said. "A lot of the coaches that are with the team right now, I played with."

Stuckrath joined the Nittany Lions after a standout career at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and played in college from 1962-64. He played offense and defense, seeing time at fullback and linebacker.

He played in Penn State's 17-7 loss to Florida in the 1962 Gator Bowl. One of his best memories from his college days came in a 27-0 upset over Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, in the midst of a five-game winning streak to close out the 1964 season at 6-4.

"It was a tremendous experience. We had some great teams, some great coaches," Stuckrath said. "We did well. We were nationally ranked each year."

Playing in college afforded Stuckrath the opportunity to play teams from across the country, including making trips to play Oregon, UCLA, California and Miami.

During college, Stuckrath said he was enrolled in the Navy ROTC program at Penn State and after he graduated, he was commissioned into the Marine Corps. Stuckrath said he spent most of his career stationed along the East Coast, including stints at Cherry Point, Norfolk, Va. and Fort Lee.

"I wanted to be part of the best," Stuckrath said of joining the Marines.

While at Quantico, Va., Stuckrath met his wife of 39 years, Linda - they'll celebrate their 40th anniversary in February - and were married just 40 days before Stuckrath began his first tour of duty in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Da Nang in 1966. Stuckrath served two tours in Vietnam and retired as a colonel in 1990.

Even though Stuckrath is no longer playing football at Penn State, he still follows the team closely.

"You think of the tradition that Penn State - they're one of the winningest teams in the country over the years," Stuckrath said. "The teams that I played with had some good records ? and every loss hurt. It really did."

The Nittany Lions returned to the nation's elite this year, winning the Big 10 Conference title and being ranked No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series. Penn State will take on Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

During Penn State's recent struggles, there was some debate as to whether the 78-year-old Paterno should retire. Stuckrath is a firm believer in Paterno.

"There's been a lot of controversy about whether Joe should retire," Stuckrath said. "He signed a four-year contract two years ago, so he has a couple more years to go on that contract and I think he'll stay. He says there is no reason for him to leave."

Stuckrath enjoyed his time playing in college. Although he does miss playing - he said he didn't miss the aches and pains - he has no regrets about his decision and it brings back fond memories.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would," Stuckrath said. "It was obviously a free education at a great school with a great football team. It opened up a lot of doors for me."

Jeremy Slayton can be reached at 635-5668 or at jslayton@freedomenc.com.

Ellie