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Penn State Great Franco Harris Honored by Alma Mater

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - OCTOBER 19: National Football League Hall of Fame Franco Harris poses with the 2019 Coaches Trophy which will be awarded to the college football national champions prior to the game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 19, 2019, at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA, (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Nearly a year after his death, Penn State legend Franco Harris is being honored by his alma mater.

The University renamed its Pittsburgh center after the Steeler great in a ceremony Tuesday night.

Before his Hall of Fame NFL career, Harris starred for some of Joe Paterno’s first great Penn State teams, playing from 1969-71.

From there, the Mount Holly, New Jersey native he went to the Steelers in the first round of the 1972 Draft, and the rest is history. Harris was just a rookie when he made what many feel is the most iconic play in football history, the “Immaculate Reception.”

On Dec. 20, 2022, Harris died at 72, three days before the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception and four days before the Steelers honored Harris by retiring his No. 32 jersey.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, some of Penn State’s leaders were there with Harris’ widow, Dana, for the ceremony in which the Pittsburgh Center became the “Franco Harris Pittsburgh Center at Penn State.”

“Today is about a lot of things and all of them are important to Franco — giving, sharing, teamwork, caring, camaraderie and education — so our hope is that this center is the beginning of furthering so many of his ideals,” Dana Harris said.

Hours after the world learned of Harris’ death, Penn State coach James Franklin called Harris “an unbelievable human being.”
“He was really an ambassador for the university and the football program,” Franklin said. “Was a servant leader. Every time I had a chance to be around him, I was so impressed with him and his wife. Obviously, involved with various causes around Pennsylvania. Just an amazing human being. A huge loss for us. Obviously, we want to send our condolences to the family, and if there’s anything we can do to support, we’d love to do that.”
Less than two weeks later, Franklin and Penn State honored Harris by wearing No. 34 Penn State jerseys as they arrived at the Rose Bowl before the team’s eventual win over Utah.

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