Top Penn State stories of 2012

Penn State had a football season that won't be easily forgotten. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

With just a few hours left before ringing in the New Year, NittanyNation takes a look at some of the more memorable Penn State posts of 2012:

1. Lions prep for huge weekend. Recruiting isn't an easy job, and we took you behind the scenes to see just what went into the week leading up to the PSU-Ohio State game -- a game more than 100 recruits attended. Whether it's sorting through 300 daily emails, eating cereal inside the office or memorizing flash cards of recruits, there's plenty to prepare for before a big recruiting day.

2. Matt McGloin set for final chapter. Before this season began, before McGloin broke a slew of passing records and had one of the finest seasons for a PSU quarterback, we brought you his in-depth story -- from how the wear-everything-orange kid pretended he was Troy Aikman tossing Nerf footballs in his backyard to tearing up after his high school season ended to his frustrations at Penn State and his desire to stick with the university no matter what. A former walk-on, McGloin had one of the most unlikely careers at PSU -- and one of the most interesting stories.

3. Committed to the program. With all the talk about the special senior class, the recruiting class of 2012 was a little overshadowed -- and no class had to be more tempted to leave than this one. Players such as Da'Quan Davis and Trevor Williams will never experience a bowl game, but all but one 2012 commit stood firm and pledged his loyalty to the blue and white. They and their parents didn't see an out-of-control program; they saw a unique place they still wanted to be a part of. This article takes a deeper look at those decisions.

4. Season shows PSU is still a top program. After Wisconsin pushed its field goal attempt wide left in overtime, a year's worth of emotions -- of loss, heartbreak, disappointment, anger and hope -- spilled out onto the field. Despite the sanctions, Penn State finished 8-4 and paved the way for the future of this program. This column was written hours after that missed kick and shortly after speaking with seniors who played in their final game.

5. Zwinak bowls over team, self, as starter. In one of the most surprising storylines to this season, Zach Zwinak came out of nowhere to win the starting job. He was a third-string fullback last season, an offensive afterthought, and just earned a chance this season because literally everyone else was injured. But Zwinak didn't disappoint; he made the most of his opportunity. In this feature, those who know him said they weren't all that surprised by his success. Whenever he didn't succeed in the past, he just got up, dusted himself off and tried harder.