Penn State wide receiver Curtis Drake has endured a year of accomplishments and disappointments in 2011 with injuries, academic issues, Wildcat quarterback play that led to a victory, and being caught up in the storm that followed the indictment of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
But it was a locker-room altercation with quarterback Matt McGloin on Dec. 17, an incident that sent McGloin to the hospital with a concussion, that led Drake to think that he ought to step away from football for a while.
The redshirt sophomore out of West Catholic High School said Tuesday that he decided not to accompany his teammates to Dallas for the Jan. 2 TicketCity Bowl game against Houston because he wanted to "take a break." He said he informed interim head coach Tom Bradley of his feelings.
A few hours after Bradley said before his team's first practice in Dallas that Drake did not make the trip because of personal reasons not related to the fight with McGloin, Drake said it was his call to stay home.
"There's just been a bunch of things going on," Drake said. "Everybody knows all about the stuff going on with Penn State and the program. Basically after the incident with me and Matt, I was tired. I just needed to step back and take a break. There was too much going on with everything.
"It was my decision. There wasn't really one thing you could pinpoint, just a bunch of things, so I decided not to go."
Bradley said sophomore wide receiver Shawney Kersey also stayed home for personal reasons, and that redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Jones and cornerback Derrick Thomas did not make the trip because of academics.
Drake suffered a broken left leg in spring practice in March, the second time in seven months he suffered the same injury. He was sidelined for the first three games of the regular season and played in eight games overall, including his final two as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation.
With his leg rehabilitating, Drake found himself in the doghouse of former head coach Joe Paterno because of academics. The locker-room incident happened most recently, with McGloin hitting his head and going into a seizure during the struggle.
"It's been a long year with a lot of stuff going on," Drake said, referring to the injury, the child sex abuse charges against Sandusky, and the fight. "It was just up and down the whole time, definitely a crazy year."
Drake, who had not commented before Tuesday on the fight, said it was "something that got out of hand.
"It started out as a simple argument and then it got to the locker room," he said. "All I was doing was going up to him and make sure everything was good. But he was still a little upset and I don't know what happened from there."
Drake said he and Bradley "have got a really good relationship" and that it was difficult to tell him he didn't want to go to Dallas.
"He wanted me to go, but I told him it was a decision I had to make for myself, and he was OK with it," Drake said.
Drake added that the decision not to go had nothing to do with academics. "My grades are fine," he said. He also said he had no plans to transfer.
The loss of Drake leaves freshman Bill Belton (Winslow Township) as the only Penn State player who has taken snaps in the Wildcat. And, together with the absence of Kersey (Woodbury), it leaves the Lions thin at wide receiver.