Stephon Morris took a detour on his way to Beaver Stadium's media room on Tuesday.
The senior walked out of the tunnel, onto the field where he has spent the past four years in blue and white, pestering opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers. It's a walk Morris and 30 other Penn State seniors will make for the final time this Saturday as the team hosts Wisconsin on senior day in it season finale.
Morris — who was his typical, candid self with the press — said he already knows he'll have tears in his eyes.
"It's going to be bittersweet," Morris said. "Kind of a great feeling, I'll remember this moment the rest of my life. But I kind of wish it didn't come that fast. These 13 weeks of the season have been kind of like a jet plane, every week it seems like it goes faster and faster."
The 5-foot-8 defensive back will play in his 40th game for the Nittany Lions on Saturday. And for the 40th time in his collegiate career, Morris' father, Roman, will be there to cheer him on.
Having his father there for him has really been the story of Morris' life.
When Morris was just two months old, he said his birth mother wanted to give him away, but that's when Roman stepped in and took custody of his son. The two have been together ever since.
"He texted me [Monday] night and was like 'You know Steph, I've never been more proud of you in my life, the way you hung in there with those guys,' " Morris said.
The Greenbelt, Md., native said he and his father also communicated right after the NCAA issued sanctions against Penn State in the summer and players were free to transfer. Like many Penn State players, Morris and his family were getting calls from other schools.
Morris told his father to give those schools a simple message.
"When the sanctions did come out, I texted my dad right away, 'I'm staying, anyone who calls you, just ignore and tell them I'm fine where I'm at,' " Morris said. "Yesterday he pretty much texted me and told me,' I never wanted you to leave, I was going to let you make your own decision, but I'm glad you made the right one.' "
Not just dealing with adversity, but leading a team through it is what makes this senior class standout, and it's something Morris has done in the secondary.
Players are allowed to transfer without penalty before the start of next season, and he said he heard whispers of players leaving when the Lions started the season 0-2. But after the wins started coming, those talks died down.
The cornerback said he has already spoken with a few members of the secondary like sophomore Adrian Amos and freshman Da'Quan Davis, who told Morris they were staying at Penn State. Morris noted after Penn State lost to Ohio State at the end of October, he heard some rumblings again, but he told the defensive backs as a unit it would be stupid to leave.
"We're not trying to run away from anything," Morris said of the senior class. "We have a lot of guys who look up to us, whether it’s the community or the younger guys. And if we broke this thing apart, who's to say Penn State would've had a team this year? We came a long way, and I really don't expect any of those guys to leave next year, I really don't."
Morris has started all 11 of the Lions' games this season and the cornerback has made 55 tackles, which is the fourth-most on the team, behind only the three starting linebackers. He has also recorded 1.5 sacks, and though he doesn't have an interception, Morris has broken up four passes.
Coach Bill O'Brien called Morris one of the best cornerbacks in the Big Ten. The respect goes both ways, as Morris said O'Brien is a great coach.
"He's a guy that I got to know basically right when I came here because he is a sociable guy and he is passionate about the game of football," O'Brien said. "And he wanted to do really well this year and he wanted to go out there and help this team win. I know just like all of us, I'm sure he wishes that we had won more games, but it wasn't because of Stephon."
For the senior day ceremony, each player will be escorted to the field with their parents. Roman and Cynthia Spriggs — who has served as a mother figure in Morris' life since he was 2-years-old — will be alongside Morris as he dons his blue No. 12 jersey for the final time.
Morris said it means a lot to him that he can enter Beaver Stadium for the last time with those two people joining him.
"I told [Roman], if I could just be half the man he was, that my life would be complete," Morris said.