The secondary and offensive line were the two units hit hardest by graduation following the 2011 season. Fifth-year senior Mike Farrell is the Nittany Lions' second-most experienced offensive lineman and should be a strong candidate for a starting assignment at one of the tackle spots, having played both positions. The talented and physical Farrell will be looked to for leadership for the unit, a role he already has embraced in the classroom and community. Farrell is in his second year as president of Penn State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a non-profit charitable organization that raises funds and awareness for rare diseases. Founded by Penn State football teammates, the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes raised more than $600,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association from 2003-11, including more than $100,000 in 2010-11 under Farrell's leadership. He posted a perfect 4.0 grade-point average during the 2012 spring semester, earning Dean's List honors, and is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Possessing a 3.41 cumulative GPA, Farrell is a potential Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America® candidate. The former Shady Side Academy all-state selection is on schedule to graduate this fall with a degree in secondary education. He was a student teacher in the State College Area School District during the 2011-12 academic year. Farrell is among 16 returning Nittany Lions from Western Pennsylvania.
2011 Senior Season
Farrell played in the final nine games after suffering a sprained knee in the season-opener with Indiana State. He helped Penn State lead the Big Ten in fewest sacks allowed (14) during the 2011 season. Farrell was on the field for 152 snaps, with a high of 61 plays in the Big Ten opener at Indiana and 35 against Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. He earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades for the second time.
2010 Junior Season
Farrell was the No. 2 left tackle for most of the season, but against Indiana, he was called on to start the game at right tackle. In his first career start, he saw action on a career-high 85 snaps, helping Penn State to the 41-24 win at FedEx Field. Farrell was instrumental in the Nittany Lions gaining 496 yards and 24 first downs in the victory. He played in five games and 116 snaps. Farrell earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
2009 Sophomore Season
Farrell helped Penn State gain more than 500 yards in wins over Akron and Eastern Illinois and played in five games. In his first season on the field, he also saw action in Big Ten victories over Illinois, Indiana and Michigan State, gaining vital experience. Farrell emerged as the top reserve at left tackle to Dennis Landolt, who earned third-team All-America honors.
2008 Freshman Season
Farrell was a team captain for Coach Dave Havern at Shady Side Academy. He was first-team all-section, All-WPIAL and all-state his senior year. Named the Allegheny Conference Outstanding Lineman-of-the-Year, Farrell helped lead his team to a 9-2 record and the WPIAL quarterfinals as a senior. Farrell garnered three letters in football and lacrosse and also wrestled one year.
Full name is Michael John Farrell. He has two younger brothers, Chris and Jake. Farrell has a number of family members who attended Penn State, including his father, Mike, uncle Jim Farrell, and cousins Jenn Hepner and Matt Swilling. An uncle, Barry Swilling, played football at the University of Richmond. Farrell is majoring in secondary education and brought a cumulative 3.22 grade-point average into the summer. He earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2010. Born August 23, 1989 in Pittsburgh, Pa.