As Penn State’s Senior Day approaches, a late submission was added to the list of those who will be honored before this Saturday’s game against Nebraska.
Kyle Baublitz, an academic senior with one year left of eligibility in 2014, announced after the Purdue game he won’t be returning for a fifth year. The defensive tackle has started seven games this season, recording 17 tackles and a memorable game-extending field goal block in the Nittany Lions’ four overtime win over Michigan.
After the Lions’ 45-21 win against the Boilermakers, Baublitz told reporters he had thought long and hard with those close to him about the decision to forego his last season of eligibility, before coming to a decision last week.
“I’m just ready to move on, live my life,” Baublitz said. “I’ve been praying about it, thinking about it, asking a bunch of people, getting their advice.”
In a recent interview with the Collegian, Baublitz elaborated on his pursuit of a career in secondary education. The York native has been juggling a pre-student teaching schedule — leading a 10th grade history class on a part-time basis at State College High School — and will be taking on a full-time teaching slate in the spring.
Baublitz said he didn’t see himself looking into a future in football because of his passion for seeing others grow.
“I want to start out teaching and maybe help inspire kids to know that there’s a path for them,” Baublitz said of his post-football plans. “They have a goal and I want to help them reach their goal.”
The son of a longtime history teacher in the Central York School district, Baublitz grew up in a family strongly based on faith and his family thanks God for his ability to overcome a childhood stroke.
Though he still has two games left before calling it a career, he said it’s never too early to think about his legacy at Penn State.
“Just a hard worker,” Baublitz said he wants to be remembered as. “[Someone who] cares about others. A Christ follower. That’s who I want to be.”
With fellow starting defensive tackle DaQuan Jones also set to graduate from the program, younger players such as current contributor Austin Johnson and backups Brian Gaia and Derek Dowrey will likely vie for starting spots along the interior line in 2014.
Jones said while Baublitz will be missed once he leaves the program, the defensive tackle will be remembered for all the right reasons once his career in Happy Valley comes to a close.
“Kyle works hard. Every day he goes out there and gives 100 percent,” Jones said. “It’s really going to hurt the team that he doesn’t come back next year, because he’s a great player, a great person to be around. You can’t describe what he means to this team. But at the same time, he has other plans and we all support him in that.”
John Stuetz can be reached at email@example.com or (814) 865-1828. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnStuetz_PSU.