Upper Darby native John Cappelletti is the proud owner of two football distinctions at Penn State.
He’s the only player whose number has been retired, and he remains the only Nittany Lion who brought a Heisman Trophy to Happy Valley, writes Mikey Mandarino for Onward State.
Cappelletti, a Monsignor Bonner High School graduate, played quarterback for the Friars, before he moved on to State College. He started at Penn State as a defensive back, then joined the varsity squad as a sophomore in 1971 playing with two other Penn State icons, Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell.
By 1973, Cappelletti had transitioned to tailback. His heroics as No. 22 that year helped the Nittany Lions finish the season undefeated and ranked fifth in the nation.
This perfect season was capped with Penn State’s triumph in the Orange Bowl, after Cappelletti had already been awarded the Heisman Trophy. During his acceptance speech, he credited his younger brother, who was battling leukemia, as his main source of inspiration.
“If I can dedicate this trophy to him tonight and give him a couple days of happiness, this is worth everything,” he said.
Read more about John Cappelletti’s career with the Nittany Lions at Onward State by clicking here.