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Election Buzz Hits Penn State Football Team

This story was written by Josh Langenbacher, Daily Collegian

Penn State wide receiver Derrick Williams cocked his head to the left and looked at Lydell Sargeant when asked about the cornerback's political activism.

"Why's it always got to be Lydell?" Williams asked, laughing. "Lydell with his vote thing. Look, Lydell's the face. But there's a lot of people behind the scenes. Lydell tells us about something, and the next thing we know, Lydell's on stage, and we're in the background."

Sargeant smiled, then proceeded with his six-hour routine. He stood at the bottom of a flight of steps and leaned against a fold-up table Tuesday at the HUB-Robeson Center encouraging people to vote, exchanging high-fives or thumbs up with those who did.

Williams went on.

"He tells everybody we're gonna work hand-in-hand together," Williams said. "He comes up there with a nice tie and vest on. Everybody else is in regular jeans."

The face, as Williams referred to Sargeant, was wrapping up a busy stint since the spring. Sargeant introduced Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in March when he spoke on the Old Main lawn, appeared at a recent Grateful Dead benefit concert and has been proactive in registering students to vote.

Sargeant, and the rest of his teammates, were non-partisan Tuesday. Among the players scheduled to sign autographs for voters at various polling locations were quarterback Daryll Clark, wide receivers Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood, Williams and Sargeant.

More were expected to stop by when practice ended.

Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno also was scheduled to stop by before and after practice.

Even Joe Paterno took some time during his weekly press conference to chime in on the election.

"We're a very, very dynamic and exciting place to be," Joe Paterno said. "It's a very challenging thing for leadership because you've got diverse groups. ... This is a very, very moving time. I think it's gonna be a very telling time as to where we're gonna go as a country."

Back at the HUB, Sargeant and Norwood worked in tandem to encourage students to vote. Sargeant asked if students knew where to vote, and if not, Norwood helped check on polling locations.

At one point, Sargeant called out to a student as she headed out the door.

"Did you vote?" Sargeant asked.

"For what?" the student responded.

"For president," Sargeant said.

Sargeant and Norwood laughed after the student was outside.

The moment, if nothing else, was more cordial than what Sargeant encountered when he arrived at the HUB at 8 a.m.

"I was here early," Sargeant said, "so I got the grumpy students just waking up."

Sargeant, who said he is on the campus' Obama campaign and P.S. U Vote, a non-partisan organization encouraging students to head to the polls, said he could spend so much time at the HUB because he doesn't have class on Tuesdays.

Casey Miller, youth vote director for Penn State Students for Barack Obama, stopped by and tried persuading Sargeant to go to one location that had a two-hour wait.

He stayed put, opting to stand in the midst of the HUB's fervor, and asked Miller to have Butler and Clark visit the other polling location.

Come today, with the election over, Sargeant has different plans.

"I'm going to sleep," he said. "Plus, Wednesday is when I start to really get ready for football."

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