Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno suspended both running back Stephfon Green and kicker/punter Anthony Fera in the preseason for violations of team rules in the offseason, and while both have missed time as a result, they've come on later in the season to make a big impact for the Nittany Lions.
Fera was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for the third time this season after drilling key field goal attempts of 43 and 46 yards against Ohio State, which proved to be the difference in Penn State's 20-14 win at Ohio Stadium on Saturday. He also made some key punts that pinned the Buckeyes deep in their own territory to start several drives.
Green helped relieve injured starter Silas Redd by carrying 16 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yard run for a score early in the first quarter that gave the Lions a lead they would maintain all afternoon.
Both made such an impact that it'd be fair to wonder where the Lions would be without them.
Since taking over as interim head coach two weeks ago, Tom Bradley has tried to keep an open mind about past transgressions, and is happy to have both players back, especially Green who didn't see action until the Iowa game on Oct. 8. and has been in a reduced role for much of the season.
"Everybody's got a clean slate," Bradley told reporters at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. "He's worked hard, he's been great with the team, he's been a leader and he's done everything I asked him to do."
With Redd still banged up and not taking hits in practice this week, Green figures to get more playing time against Wisconsin this weekend in the de facto Big Ten Leaders Division championship game.
A game day approaches, he just hopes he can put his past behind him and help the team on its road to the Rose Bowl.
"I'm just taking advantage of every opportunity I get," Green said after the win against Ohio State. "I messed up, I've learned from my mistakes, I'm just keeping my head straight and going forward."