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Patrick Weber is nearing the end of a five-year Penn State experience that some might have found frustrating. Weber wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I wouldn’t change my decision,” the former Valley High School three-sport standout said. “I’m a better player and person because of what I’ve experienced.”

Weber plays his final football game with Penn State on Saturday night when the Lions (8-4) face Texas A&M (7-5) in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

“It’s going to be bittersweet,” said Weber, who is the snapper on placement kicks and backup to All-Big Ten center A.Q. Shipley. “The last five years have probably been the best of my life. They’re ones I won’t forget — memories of my teammates and Penn State in general.”

Weber walked on at Penn State and was put on scholarship for the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

For a guy in a relatively low-profile role — “As a snapper, no one really knows you unless you mess up,” he said — Weber will leave Penn State as a much-honored player.

He’s a multiple-year Academic All-Big Ten selection. He was presented the Frank Patrick Memorial Total Commitment Award in the spring of 2006, an honor that recognizes a junior for consistent effort on and off the field. At the recent year-end football banquet, Weber received the John Bruno Jr. Memorial Award as the outstanding member of special teams.

“Really, it’s worked out for the better for me,” Weber said. “I’ve been an integral part of special teams the last couple of years and I’ve been on the traveling squad and had the experience of playing in the Big Ten. We’re playing in our third straight bowl game and if we could finish with three bowl wins, that wouldn’t be too shabby.”

Weber counts those previous bowl wins, in the Orange and Outback bowls, as highlights of his time in the program. He’s proud to have been part of a senior class that restored winning to the program.

“Coach Paterno always said the seniors this year came in at a time when the program was really down,” Weber said. “Back in ’03 and ’04, those were seasons we really didn’t know what winning was all about. Getting the program back on a winning footing and going to bowl games, it’s great to have been a part of that.

“We made a 180-degree turn from where we were the first two seasons.”

Paterno had cited Weber when speaking of the senior class.

“There’s three or four kids out there who (were) walk-ons that have made a contribution — (wide receiver Brendan) Perretta, Weber, and a couple of other guys,” he said.

Weber made headlines for a lesser moment in 2006, when he was the center on a snap in practice that injured a finger of starting quarterback Anthony Morelli. It wasn’t on Morelli’s throwing hand, and he was able to play.

Weber can laugh about it now. At the time, it wasn’t so funny.

“At first I was a little, not worried, but concerned. I think it was just one of things that happens, freak accidents,” Weber said. “I know I snapped it on the right count, but his finger still sort of bent.”

“I didn’t live it down for five weeks. Morelli, my roommates. The Daily Collegian had a headline: “The Finger” on the front page. We still have it hanging in our apartment.”

Weber graduated the past spring with a degree in kinesiology. He’s been taking classes toward a master’s in educational leadership and will begin student teaching in mid-January, spending seven weeks each with the Altoona and State College school districts to be certified in kindergarten through grade 12 health and physical education.

“It will be a great experience,” Weber said, although he’s not sure he’s going to look to land a teaching job right away.

“First off the bat, I’m going to try to get into college coaching,” he said. “I’ve sent out to some schools for grad assistant positions. I want to give that a go-round. Then, maybe I can look into teaching and coaching at the high school level.”

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