"It's such a nice thing, and hopefully meaningful for the fans and school that we have a number retired now," said Cappelletti, a native of Upper Darby.
Nearly all of the former Penn State running back's immediate family came out to Penn State to witness the announcement, which was made at halftime of Saturday's game. Cappelletti stood behind a line of 1973 lettermen as they were announced on by one. Cappelletti was announced last.
He walked onto the field to accept his retired jersey. His Heisman Trophy was also on display during the ceremony. Cappelletti said returning to Beaver Stadium and Happy Valley evoked memories of his time playing at Penn State.
"Some good, some bad, most of the bad ones had to do with the academic side," he joked. "No, it's always been good. My family has been enjoying Penn State for years, since the early '70s, and my brother went here after me. So Penn State has been a haven for us."
Cappelletti won the Heisman in 1973, rushing for 1,522 yards and 17 touchdowns during the team's 12-0 campaign. He is the Lions' No. 9 all-time rusher with 2,639 career yards.
Penn State running back Akeel Lynch currently wears Cappelletti's No. 22. He will continue to wear that number for the remainder of his Penn State career.
Lynch channeled his inner Cappelletti on Saturday in his first career game, rushing for 108 yards and one touchdown against Eastern Michigan. After the game, Cappelletti spoke to the Nittany Lions in the locker room, addressing Lynch in particular.
"That was pretty amazing," Lynch said. Cappelletti "called me out in the locker room and said, 'Where's Akeel Lynch?' He was talking to some other guy, and said, 'We want you to carry 22 for the rest of your career. And make sure you give it back when you're done.' "
When Lynch was choosing his number, he originally wanted Bill Belton's old number, 5. But [equipment manager] Spider Caldwell explained to him the history of No. 22. Lynch said he never wanted to switch after that.
"I looked it up, Evan Royster, Capelletti, all these greats wore it," Lynch said. "It's a pretty big number, so I took it. And every time I put it on, I remember the guys before me who have put it on."