I've decided to compile my own Penn State "Dream Team"
Quarterback Kerry Collins
This one is an easy no brainer. Collins was the leader of the explosive offense that PSU demonstrated in the 1994 season, with 21 TD's 2,679 passing yards. Collins was also a finalist for the Heisman. (finishing 4th in the voting) Collins went on to win the Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year) Sammy Baugh Trophy
(Nation's top college passer) and the Davey O'Brien Award (Best College Quarterback in NCAA)
Running Back Larry Johnson
I may be a bit biased since Johnson was around my early teenage years. But man what he did in one season takes some running backs two or more. He rushed over 2,000 yards (2,087) alone in 2002. He constantly kept raising the bar by breaking the single game rushing record three different times while averaging 7.8 yards in the process. Johnson himself was a Heisman finalist (finishing 3rd) a winner of the Doak Walker Award (top running back) Maxwell Award winner and Walter Camp Award. (Top College Player) I often wonder what Johnson's numbers would be had he been the running back when he first arrived at PSU. Oh incase you didn't know, Johnson had 31 tackles and 7 sacks during his first 3 seasons at Penn State.
Fullback Franco Harris
Harris was mostly known for his time at PSU as Lydell Mitchell's blocker. But Harris also racked up over 2,000 career rushing yards and 24 TD's. I would love to see him in the backfield blocking for Larry Johnson. And with how Franco turned out to be in the NFL, I think I would have to utilize Franco Harris in the running game a bit more.
Winning the first ever Bilentikoff Award (College Football's Best Receiver) Bobby Engram for sure left his
mark as he is still the all-time leader in receiving yards (2,986) and TD's (31) It's easy to see why he was Kerry Collins favorite target.(What? You didn't think I wouldn't pick Collins main go to guy now did you?)
holds the record for career receptions at Penn State and the single game record for receiving yards.
Butler was more often than not the deep bomb guy who would blow past his defenders and make some
of the better catches one would see. Butler is also second on the list for all time receiving yards (2,771)
and third all time in TD receptions (22) Now looking back, I'm scratching my head and wondering why he wasn't rated as a 4 or 5 star player coming out of high school? I guess that goes to show you though that the "Star Rating System" isn't always the best way to find some of the better players.
A great athlete coming out of high school, Kenny Jackson would become Penn State's first ever
All-American WR. Jackson help lead the Nittany Lions to their first national championship in the 1982 season. Jackson would finish with 2,006 receiving yards which is fifth all time in school history. Along
with 25 career receiving TD's which is second all time only behind Bobby Engram.
Tight End Andrew Quarless
I know this may seem a little bit premature, but Andrew Quarless had size, speed, and strength. Quarless also had very good hands and was also a reliable blocker when put in the position to do so. Although
Quarless had some issues off the field, his presence on the field didn't go unnoticed. 8 TD's 1,146 receiving
yards during his time at Penn State.
Levi Brown second team all american & first team all big ten(2005), All American Honors (2006)
Kareem McKenzie three time All Big Ten Conference (only 1 of 5 players from PSU to be selected ABT 3 times) (9.)
Jeff Hartings two time First Team All American
Marco Rivera two time Second Team All Big Ten, 4 time letter winner
Stefen Wisniewski- First Penn State Football Student Athlete to be named an ESPN Academic All-American three times (12.)
With this offensive line protecting Collins and company, it would open up continuous scoring and create a lot of holes for the running backs, and give Collins plenty of time in the pocket.
Brown was part of one of the more ruthless and arguably one of, it not the best defensive
unit in Penn State History. A 2x All Big Ten First Team, Big Ten Defensive & Lineman of the Year, and an All American. Brown would swarm right through the opponents offensive line and harass the QB. Brown finished his college career with 33 sacks and 70 tackles for a loss (a record at the time when he left Penn State)
I havent been able to find much info regarding his stats other than the fact that he had 89 career tackles, was an All American, and finished 5th in the 1969 Heisman Trophy voting. But to give you a little example of how great he was, he only played in the NFL for four seasons (unfortunately injuries took its toll and had to retire
early) he still managed 49 career sacks, averaging just a little over 12 a season. Reid won the Outland Trophy for "Best College Football Interior Lineman" and the Maxwell Award.
Kennedy was big and plugged up alot of holes for the Penn State defense during his college career. Kennedy finished his career with 213 tackles, 14 sacks, and 39 tackles for loss. Kennedy received the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2002 as well as First Team All Big Ten and First Team All American.
Tamba Hali's story is also remarkable. Coming from Liberia where little kids as young as five (perhaps even younger) would actually partake in the war themselves. Hali moved to the USA at the age of ten with his father. Hali was considered to be undersized for his position. But that did not stop him! In his senior year he recorded 11 sacks and 17 tackles for losses. One of his most memorable sacks that season came against
Illinois when he came from the side out of nowhere and bullrushed QB Tim Brasic and left him really shooken up from the hit. (See Below)
Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, First Team All Big Ten and an unanimous All American in 2005
This Defensive Line would demonstrate size and speed and great athleticism. Hali and Brown would be a major threat for a QB and make them flush out of the pocket and force them to make mistakes. With Mike Reid and Jimmy Kennedy plugging up the holes so no running back would slip through.
Okay this is too easy. If Jack Ham is considered one of, if not the greatest outside linebacker of all time, why wouldn't I have him on my dream team? Exactly, because if I didn't I'd be a fool. He was an All American and registered 251 career tackles during his time at Penn State. Ham was also part of two 11-0 Nittany Lion
teams which relied heavily on it's defense, which Jack Ham and company never failed to produce.
Even though Posluszny is one of the more recent players to have played at Penn State, his work ethic is hard to go unnoticed. Poslusnzy had great lateral movements causing many opposing running backs to go east & west. Poslusnzy also delivered some of the most brutal hits and some that just left you in awe. Especially when Poslusnzy decided to go airborne and tackle Gary Russell denying him a TD (video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6K8DZoB9Ig&feature=youtu.be)
Poslusnzy eventually went on to win the Butkus Award (Top Linebacker in the Country) and a two time winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award (College Defensive Player of the Year) Posluszny also recorded 372 career tackles, which was a school record at the time.
Despite my recent difference of opinion on some matters with this man, I cannot take away what he did on the field. LaVar was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school and when he came to Penn State, he already had so many expectations. As far as his career at Penn State, he lived up to them. (I remember in 1999 in a game against Pitt he blocked a last second field goal by the Panthers who were trying to tie the game, and I can recall the whole stadium erupting with excitement and joy) In his final season at Penn State he made 72 tackles, with 20 Tackles-For-Losses, nine sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (one TD) and two blocked kicks(one of those being the one I just mentioned) LaVar made many great plays, but what he will probably be most remembered "The LaVar Leap" when he jumped prior to the snap and tackled the running back from Illinois immediately after he had the ball handed off to him (See video below). Arrington won the Butkus Award, Bednairk Award, and the Lambert Award (top collegiate linebacker) In his final year at PSU.
This unit of Linebackers is essentially why Penn State is known as "Linebacker U". You have Jack Ham, who you could consider one of the 'pioneers' if you will for making Penn State eventually known for producing great Linebackers. Paul Poslusnzy would cause many problems for opposing offenses causing them to go east and west and finish them off with his brutal hits. And then you have LaVar Arrington for his tenacity and athleticism and ability to make numerous big plays. One thing I can say is that I wouldn't want to be an opposing QB with these hard-hitters coming at me!
David Macklin in 1998 made all Big Ten and led the Big Ten in interceptions with six
Bhawoh Jue had 99 career tackles, 7 interceptions and was All Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2000
Alan Zemaitis (22.)
12 career interceptions (returned them for a total of 234 yds.) And a TD. Two time All Big Ten
Kevin Kelly (24.)
Penn State career scoring leader. Penn State career field goals,Penn State longest field goal (tie) Penn State consecutive field goals, Big Ten career scoring. 2008 All Big Ten
Jeremy Boone 2007 All Big Ten
This category is interesting. It's players who could play offense, defense, special teams, different positions, etc. And I have decided to choose 5
1. Michael Robinson
M-Rob spent his first season playing quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. M-Rob was an all around athlete and had plenty of toughness. He help lead Penn State out of the "Dark Years" and made Penn State return to national prominence. Robinson and the Nittany Lions finished #3 in the rankings with a victory of Florida State in the Orange Bowl and an 11-1 record. Along with that, Robinson finished 5th in the Heisman Trophy voting and was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 and won the "Chicago Tribune Silver Football" (MVP in the Big Ten)
2. Justin King
King was versatile. He had tremendous speed and when he was put in as a WR he would blow right by his defenders, as well when he would rush with the ball on reverses and turn on the wheels and race down the sideline with his blazing 4.31 40. Speed kills, and that's exactly what King would do to opposing teams, whether on offense or defense.
3. Derrick Williams
D-Will was a dynamic player that was able to create so many opportunities. He could run, pass, and catch. He was another all around athlete that could do anything when put into a situation. Williams was part of a highly touted recruiting class, (along with Justin King, Deon Butler(walk on) Jordan Norwood) that turned the Penn State Football Program around and return to glory.
4. Brandon Short
I know Short didn't play multiple positions, but Short was a great linebacker in his own right. Despite being in the back shadow of Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington, Short led the team in tackles in 1999 with 103. He was even a Butkus Award Finalist alongside teammate LaVar Arrington (Arrington went on to win the award) Short was also 1st-team All-American and 1st-team All-Big Ten in 1999(as well as 1st team ABT in 1998)
5. Ethan Kilmer
Kilmer may not have put up the biggest numbers, but he was a good utility man as you could put him in any situation, special teams, offense, defense. And he made plays when they mattered the most. Like he did in the 2006 Orange Bowl when he caught a TD right before halftime to give Penn State a one point lead. Had he not come up with that big play, Penn State may have gone on to lose that game.
There you have it folks, my Penn State "Dream Team" And who knows, over time some of these players could get replaced on my list by new ones. Let me know what you think in the comments section and tell me where you agree, disagree, and who you would have on your "Dream Team" (Even if it isn't Penn State, list your all time favorite players who you thought were the best to play football at your teams school)
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Image sources: (1.) http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/images/photos/001/275/417/360130_crop_650x440.jpg?1310068644