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Urschel leaves handprint in Happy Valley history
By Ashley Chase
STATE COLLEGE -- On Sunday afternoon, mural artist Michael Pilato added one new face to the mural just off College avenue in downtown State College.
When asked why he chose this particular face, Pilato quoted the late Joe Paterno's phrase, "success with honor."
John Urschel has his face on the mural.
Urschel's location on the wall is next to Sue Paterno. Pilato says he chose that place for John because of Sue's focus on academics and the impression Urschel has made on the Penn State institution.
The all-Big Ten offensive lineman calls the tribute a "really a big honor."
"It's a big deal to me," said Urschel.
Pilato replied, "it's a big honor to me."
The mural is "town and gown." The artists' inspirations come from Penn State and State College. Examples include fallen war hero Sergeant Michael Murphy, the ten alumni who perished on September 11th, and Joe Paterno.
Pilato pointed out one spot to Urschel, the "409" painted on the back of the chair Paterno is pictured sitting in.
"I put it up after they took them away," said Pilato, "which they can't do."
While Urschel and the muralist were discussing the mural, Pilato realized he wasn't done with Urschel's contribution to the mural just yet.
"Can I get your handprint in there too?" asked Pilato.
With no hesitation, Urschel replied, "absolutely."
Like many other Penn State seniors, Urschel placed his handprint on the wall, but Pilato had yet another special placement in mind for John.
"Can you reach where the 409 is?" he asked.
The 6-foot three-inch Sullivan Trophy winner had no problem.
Pilato stroked the brush on Urschel's hand, leaving multiple layers of color, before John pressed his palm and fingers to the wall. His hand connecting with the "409" which is a number that includes wins that Urschel himself was a part of.
Urschel undoubtedly leaves a legacy at Penn State, on the football field, in the classroom, and in an impression on the mural, with his lasting touch.