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Fifteen Nittany Lions from 2017 senior class earn opportunities with NFL teams
Fessler, Haley and Smith cap college careers with prestigious honor from National Football Foundation
Eight Penn Staters at the Combine are the most since 2009; Combine takes place Feb. 27-March 5 in Indianapolis
Cabinda, Cothran, Cothren, Haley and Hamilton to participate in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, Apke to play in Saturday’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and Allen, Campbell and Gesicki to partake in the Jan. 27 Senior Bowl
Barkley, Gillikin and Thompkins headline special teams honorees; Smith garners sportsmanship accolades
USATSI Gallery - Penn State vs. Pittsburgh
Jan. 2, 2017
Nov. 5, 2016
Oct. 22, 2016
Penn State falls on Senior Day
Career: Became the first player in school history to return a blocked field goal for a touchdown vs. Ohio State (10/22/16), taking it back 60 yards following a Marcus Allen block.
Season: Broke the Penn State season record with 32 kickoff returns in 2014 (Chaz Powell, 27; 2011), a mark since topped by Miles Sanders (33; 2016)...His 659 kickoff return yards in 2014 rank third on the school season list behind Powell (733 yards; 2011) and Sanders (688; 2016).
➤ 2017 ➤ Senior Season
Awards: Earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media voters...Named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, along with teammate Marcus Allen...Earned Midseason All-America honors from The All-Athletic and USA Today...Named to the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week on Sept. 12 after grabbing his first interception of the season vs. Pittsburgh...Earned Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week following his effort vs. Indiana (9/30)...Garnered a spot on the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week on Oct. 10 after a three-tackle, three-pass breakup effort at Northwestern...Notched a slot on the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week after his efforts at Maryland (11/25)...Earned the Captain's Award and Bob Mitinger Memorial Award, along with Torrence Brown and Josh McPhearson, as the squad member who exhibits courage, character and social responsibility, at the annual team banquet...Named Academic All-Big Ten.
Season: Started all 13 games...Selected team captain prior to the season...Recovered his first career fumble at Iowa (9/23)...One of 21 Penn Staters to enter the Fiesta Bowl having already earned a degree.
Rankings: Finished tied for No. 10 in the Big Ten in pass deflections per game (0.9).
Akron (9/2): Made one tackle...One of eight players to be a part of three-straight seasons with a shutout (Illinois, 2015; at Rutgers, 2016; Akron, 2017), marking the longest such streak since a three-year span from 1989-91...Part of a defense that logged a season-opening shutout for the first time since 2007 (FIU, 59-0). Pittsburgh (9/9): Made plays all over the field, with four tackles and one tackle for loss - a first-quarter sack of Panther quarterback Max Browne for his first career quarterback takedown...Added one pass breakup...Intercepted his fourth career pass in the first quarter and returned it a career-long 42 yards to set up Penn State's opening touchdown...Part of a defense that piled up five sacks, its most since logging six last season vs. No. 2 Ohio State...Selected as the coaching staff's Co-Defensive Player of the Week with Marcus Allen. Georgia State (9/16): Logged two stops...Corralled his second interception of the season in the second quarter...A part of a unit that posted its second shutout of the season, marking the first time since 2009 a Nittany Lion defense posted two shutouts in a single season...Helped Penn State force five turnovers (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries), the first time since forcing five turnovers last season at Indiana (five fumble recoveries)...Part of a secondary that nabbed three interceptions in a game for the first time since doing so at Maryland in 2015. at Iowa (9/23): Had one tackle and recovered his first career fumble...Covered up Marcus Allen's forced fumble in the third quarter, which led to a Saquon Barkley 8-yard touchdown run...Had an interception overturned by replay in the second half. Indiana (9/30): Totaled four tackles...Added one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. at Northwestern (10/7): Made three tackles...Had a solo tackle for loss, dropping Justin Jackson for a loss of 7 yards in the third quarter...Broke up a career-high three passes...Selected as the coaching staff's Co-Defensive Player of the Week with Christian Campbell. Michigan (10/21): Made four tackles...Had one pass breakup...Part of a defense that held the Wolverines scoreless over the final 40:03 of the game. at Ohio State (10/28): Logged five tackles...Added a third-quarter pass breakup in the end zone. at Michigan State (11/4): Made five tackles. Rutgers (11/11): Made one tackle...Added two pass breakups...Part of a defense that allowed just 43 passing yards, the fewest in a game since giving up 32 vs. Army (2015)...The 43 passing yards are the fewest allowed by Penn State in Big Ten play...Held Rutgers to just seven pass completions, the second-fewest allowed by the Nittany Lions in a Big Ten game. Nebraska (11/18): Logged three tackles...Added one quarterback hurry. at Maryland (11/25): Had three tackles...Had a solo takedown of Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager in the second quarter...Added one pass breakup...Part of a defense that held the Terps scoreless in the first half, marking the seventh time in 2017 the Nittany Lion defense held an opponent scoreless in at least one half...Named the coaching staff's Defensive Player of the Week. vs. Washington (12/30): Posted four tackles - all solo.
➤ 2016 ➤ Junior Season
Awards: Named CoSIDA Academic All-District...Earned Co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week (Marcus Allen, PSU) and Rose Bowl Game Big Ten Player of the Week after returning a blocked field goal for the game-winning touchdown vs. No. 2 Ohio State (10/22)...Named Academic All-Big Ten for the second time in his career.
Season: Appeared in 12 games with 11 starts.
Minnesota (10/1): Totaled a career-high-tying seven stops. Maryland (10/8): Posted two tackles...Part of a defense that allowed a 11 first downs...Helped limit Maryland 14 points - all in the first half - 170 rushing yards and 270 yards of total offense, after the Terps entered averaging 43.2 points, 300.0 rushing and 466.2 yards of total offense per game. Ohio State (10/22): Made three assisted tackles...Returned Marcus Allen’s blocked field goal for 60 yards and the game-wining score with 4:27 to play in the fourth quarter...The return marked the first field goal return for a touchdown in Penn State history...Helped the defense hold Ohio State scoreless in two quarters for the first time since Michigan State in 2015, which was Ohio State’s last loss. at Purdue (10/29): Made three tackles...Helped the defense hold Purdue to just 46 yards rushing, the second opponent held under 50 yards rushing in 2016. Iowa (11/5): Totaled three tackles...Helped the defense hold Iowa to just 30 yards rushing, which was 137.9 yards below the Hawkeyes’ season average (167.9 ypg) entering the game...It was the fewest rushing yards allowed by Penn State since holding Massachusetts to three yards in 2014...It marked the first time Penn State held consecutive opponents to 46 yards rushing or fewer since 2007 (Notre Dame, zero yards; FIU, minus-3 yards)...It was the first time since Penn State joined the Big Ten that it held consecutive conference opponents to 50 yards or less of rushing. at Indiana (11/12): Made three solo stops...Broke up a career-high-tying two passes. at Rutgers (11/19): Made a pair of stops, including a solo tackle for loss in the third quarter...Aided the Nittany Lions in compiling nine tackles for loss, the eighth time in 2016 they recorded at least 9.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Michigan State (11/26): Logged four tackles...Combined with Evan Schwan on a fourth-quarter tackle for loss. vs. Wisconsin (12/3): Made five tackles - four solo...Had three tackles on Wisconsin’s final drive...Made the final Penn State stop of the game on fourth-and-1 from the Penn State 24, holding first-team All-Big Ten running back Corey Clement to no gain. vs. USC (1/2): Equaled his career high with seven tackles - five solo - and two pass breakups...Made two stops on punt coverage.
➤ 2015 ➤ Sophomore Season
Awards: Named All-Big Ten honorable mention from the media...Earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
Season: Started 11 games...Appeared in his first game of the season vs. Rutgers (9/19) after missing the first two games due to injury...Forced his first career fumble at Northwestern (11/7).
Rutgers (9/19): Grabbed the second interception of his career late in the second quarter...Recorded two tackles...Part of a defense that held Rutgers to just three points, the fewest in a Big Ten opener since limiting Minnesota to three points in 1994...Helped hold Rutgers to 43 rushing yards, the fewest since giving up just 33 yards to Maryland in 2014. San Diego State (9/26): Logged three stops, all solo tackles. Army (10/3): Recorded four tackles...Was a part of a defensive that limited Army to one pass attempt, the fewest by a Penn State opponent since at least 1966, and one completion, the fewest since 1976 (Ohio State)...The one completion tied for the fewest by a team in FBS in 2015 (by Georgia Southern vs. Western Michigan & by Boston College vs. Syracuse)...The one pass attempt was the fewest by an FBS team in 2015...Helped hold Army to just 32 passing yards, the fewest against the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten era (since 1993). Indiana (10/10): Made three tackles...Helped snap Indiana’s string of nine games in which the Hoosiers scored 20-plus points...Part of a defense that held Indiana to 234 yards of total offense, the fewest allowed by PSU since giving up 221 at Indiana in 2014...Led a secondary that limited the Hoosiers’ 155 passing yards, the fewest allowed by Penn State in a Big Ten game since allowing 68 to Indiana in 2014. at Ohio State (10/17): Had four stops...Added one pass breakup. vs. Maryland (10/24): Recorded two tackles...Added one pass breakup...Collected his second interception of the season and third of his career to end Maryland’s first drive of the game...Grabbed one of three Penn State interceptions, its most in a game since picking off Rutgers five times in the Big Ten opener (9/13/14)...Helped the Nittany Lions force a season-high five turnovers. Illinois (10/31): Made two stops...Had 1.0 tackle for loss...Part of a defense that recorded its first Big Ten shutout since blanking Minnesota in 2009 (20-0)...Helped hold Illinois to just 167 yards (37 rushing, 130 passing), the fewest allowed since holding Minnesota to 138 yards (37 rushing, 101 passing) in 2009...As a unit, the defense forced a punt on 12 of Illinois’ 15 possessions, with two ending with a turnover on downs and the other halted by an interception. at Northwestern (11/7): Tallied four tackles...Forced his first career fumble in the first quarter. Michigan (11/21): Had six tackles...Notched two pass breakups...Helped hold Michigan to less than 100 yards rushing, the fifth Penn State opponent that failed to reach 100 rushing yards (87 on 30 carries). at Michigan State (11/28): Made five tackles...Recorded one pass breakup. vs. Georgia (1/2): Made a career-high seven tackles (six solo)...Added his second career tackle for loss in the fourth quarter.
➤ 2014 ➤ True Freshman Season
Awards: BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Team honorable mention selection...Earned Dean's List accolades in the 2014 fall semester.
Season: Appeared in all 13 games, seeing time on defense and special teams...Made his first career start in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College...Served as the team’s primary kickoff returner...Averaged 20.6 yards per return, with a long return of 44 yards...Broke the Penn State season record with 32 kickoff returns (Chaz Powell, 27; 2011) and his 659 kickoff return yards rank second on the school season list (Powell, 733 yards; 2011)...On defense, logged 18 tackles (12 solo)...Grabbed one interception and returned it for a touchdown against Temple, which was the first defensive touchdown scored by a Penn State true freshman since Paul Posluszny returned an interception against Indiana on the same date (Nov. 15) in 2003...One of three true freshmen to start on defense...Was among 16 Nittany Lions to make their first career start in 2014...Was one of nine true freshmen to make their debut during the season.
UCF (8/30): Made his collegiate debut at the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland...Returned four kickoffs for 118 yards...Opened the second half with a season-long 44-yard return. Akron (9/6): Returned one kickoff for 18 yards...Added his first two career tackles, making his first career stop on the punt coverage unit in the first quarter. at Rutgers (9/13): Made one tackle...Returned two kickoffs for 36 yards to earn the coaching staff’s Special Teams Player of the Week. UMass (9/20): Made a season-high three stops, including two on special teams...Returned one kickoff for 25 yards. Northwestern (9/27): Returned four kickoffs for 67 yards, including a 21-yarder...Added one tackle. at Michigan (10/11): Returned two kickoffs for a 16.0-yard average, including a long of 20 yards. Ohio State (10/25): Recorded a pair of tackles in the double-overtime game...Returned two kickoffs for a 17.5 average, including a long of 22 yards. Maryland (11/1): Tied his season best with three stops...Added four kickoff returns for a 19.0 average. at Indiana (11/8): Collected two special teams tackles...Also returned one kickoff...Was selected the coaches’ Special Teams Player of the Week. Temple (11/15): Grabbed his first career interception and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to help Penn State become bowl eligible...His pick-six was the first defensive touchdown scored by a Penn State true freshman since Paul Posluszny returned an interception against Indiana on the same date in 2003...Added three stops...Helped limit Temple to just 61 rushing yards and eight first downs, the fewest for a Penn State opponent since Indiana State had eight in 2011...Returned three kickoffs for 72 yards, including a 31-yard return, to earn the coaches’ Special Teams Player of the Week for the third time. at Illinois (11/22): Returned one kickoff for 21 yards...Posted one pass breakup. Michigan State (11/29): Made one tackle...Returned five kickoffs for a 21.4-yard average. Vs. Boston College (12/27): Made his first career start at cornerback in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium...Helped limit the Eagles to just 97 yards passing...Returned two kickoffs for a 19.0-yard average, with a long return of 24 yards.
➤ High School
A four-year letterman as a standout two-way player for head coach Mike Muschamp at The Lovett School...A two-year team captain...Named the Associated Press Georgia Class 2A Offensive Player of the Year and the South Fulton All-Area Offensive Player of the Year as a senior...Compiled more than 1,500 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns as a running back and added six interceptions at cornerback during his final prep season...Led the Lions to the Georgia Class AA State Championship...Was named to the MaxPreps Small School All-America second-team in 2013...Selected to play in the Georgia Rising Senior Bowl and the Georgia East-West Bowl...Selected all-state as a junior and was a three-time team MVP...Rated as a three-star prospect by all four major recruiting services...Ranked among the nation’s Top 50 defensive backs by 247Sports and ESPN...Also lettered four times in baseball, twice in basketball and twice in track and field...Earned a bronze medal on the National Latin Exam.
Full name is Grant Dennis Haley...Son of Leon Haley Jr. and Carla Neal-Haley...Has one younger brother, Wesley, and one younger sister, Nichelle...Mother was a member of the Penn State track and field team...Majoring in advertising and public relations...Would like to pursue a career in sports broadcasting or network television administration...Born January 6, 1996 in Southfield, Michigan.