STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Penn State athletic career of Dan Chisena has come full circle. He arrived in Happy Valley as a preferred walk-on on the football team but switched to track, a sport in which he had won state championships while competing for Downingtown East High School.
He returned to the football team last season, seeing limited action. However, on Saturday, he was part of the most-memorable moment of the annual Blue-White Game, and it wasn’t just the 59-yard touchdown pass he caught from Will Levis in the third quarter.
It was what came next, when head coach James Franklin took the microphone and addressed the crowd of more than 60,000 at Beaver Stadium.
"Dan Chisena, with that catch, you’re on full scholarship,” Franklin said, prompting players on both sidelines to storm the field and mob the fifth-year senior.
“I don’t even know how to put it into words,” Chisena said later.
Chisena, a 2015 PIAA state champion in the 100 and 200 meters and the 4x100 relay, entered Penn State that summer to play football, but he moved on to the track team after receiving a partial scholarship, which kept him from football because “you can’t play football with another sport’s money,” he said.
From the spring of 2016 through the 2017-18 outdoor season, Chisena enjoyed some success. In the 2017 Big Ten outdoor championships, he was part of the victorious 4x400-meter relay team and finished third in the individual 400. He also ran on multiple relay teams that earned second-team All-America honors. But football was still a part of him.
“I just really missed football,” he said. “It really had nothing to do with track. I loved my time over there. I miss those guys. But there’s just a pull for me to go back and give football another try. I’m very appreciative that coach Franklin let me come back on the team. It’s been an incredible experience so far, and I’m very, very thankful.”
Franklin said he liked Chisena when he recruited him before “the track -and-field team stole him from us in a positive way.