Penn State quarterback Beau Pribula liked what he heard.
Usually, before a college football game, the Star-Spangled Banner is played by the home team’s marching band.
But before Saturday’s Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium, the celebrated Blue Band listened while a talented singer belted out the anthem.
The fans and media in attendance saw it, but Pribula didn’t. In college football, players aren’t on the field during the song. Instead, they’re getting ready to make their grand entrance. So Pribula was close enough to where he could hear the anthem but not to where he could see the singer.
So where was that sound coming from?
Was it a talented Penn State alumn?
Was it a current student?
Was it John Legend?
No, and no on options one and three.
Option two is the correct one. The singer was a current student and a football player at that.
Penn State fans– at least the ones who pay attention to Twitter– know that offensive lineman Golden Israel-Achumba can sing.
He proved that earlier this year when he gave a fantastic rendition of John Legend’s All of Me that went viral and earned praise from many, including his head coach, James Franklin.
My guy is Talented, proud of you https://t.co/4iuBUBeha0
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) February 17, 2023
That viral video was how projected starting quarterback Drew Allar found out about what was once one of Israel-Achumba’s hidden talents. Like his fellow QB, Allar didn’t see Israel-Achumba’s anthem in real-time, and furthermore, said that the idea for him to sing wasn’t something that Penn State’s teammates knew about ahead of the game.
“Nobody knew he was singing the national anthem,” Allar told reporters after the spring game. “I literally found out 10 minutes ago when I saw it on social media.”
And what were Allar’s thoughts?
“It was like crazy impressive,” Allar said. “I mean, it’s a great talent he has, and he’s showing everybody what he has.”
Golden with the guest appearance on the National Anthem 👀🎤🎶 @BigDogGolden78 pic.twitter.com/DbbUr7PhBl
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) April 15, 2023
Athletes are also human beings, and that’s something that not enough people take into account. Athletes are also good at things away from their sport. There are plenty of examples of this throughout Penn State football history.
Mike Reid is one of the best Penn State football players ever, and remarkably, that might not have been his No. 1 talent. After his NFL career, Reid became a Grammy-Award-winning songwriter, best known for writing Ronnie Millsap’s 1983 hit “Stranger in My House.” In the past decade, All-Big Ten offensive lineman John Urschel became a Ph.D. in Math. Current offensive lineman and newly-named captain Olu Fashanu is known for academic excellence as well, and current linebacker Abdul Carter revealed after the Blue-White Game that he’s good at chess.
“Our guys are more than just football players,” Franklin said in his post-Blue-White presser. “They have other talents. They have other skills and interests and hobbies.”
Franklin then explained that every new player on the team, whether they’re playing or coaching, has to “get up and dance and sing” as a ritual.
This isn’t something that everybody is comfortable with, which is perhaps the point.
“Hunter Nourzad has talked about that; if he would have known he had to do that, he would not have come to Penn State—extreme anxiety about getting up in front of the group,” Franklin said.
But for some players, it’s right in the wheelhouse, and that’s how Franklin said that those within the program found out that Israel-Achumba had strong pipes.
“A lot of times when the new person up there stinks, the room will start chanting for somebody good to go up,” Franklin said. “And Golden’s not afraid to go up. He’s done some things (singing-wise) on campus as well.”
Pribula said Israel-Achumba sings “pretty frequently” in Penn State’s team meetings.
All of this made the idea to have Israel-Achumba go out there and belt the anthem an easy call.
“We thought it’d be cool if he (sang),” Franklin said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he did a good job with it. He’s a talented dude.”