Tyrell Sales finds himself in a much different position than he did one year ago and he is anxious to tackle the challenges that await this fall. In 2007, the highly skilled athlete joined Dan Connor and Sean Lee to form one of the nation's most productive and disruptive linebacking corps. But, over the first half of this year, things have occurred to place Sales in position as the most experienced returnee for "Linebacker U." With Connor having graduated last December, Sales joined Lee in taking a leadership role for the defense during winter conditioning. One week before the Blue-White game, though, All-American Lee suffered a serious knee injury that most likely will keep him on the sidelines in 2008. Sales has elevated his role as leader for the defense since mid-April. It is a role he will need to continue to accentuate, as the defense may return only five other players that were regular starters last season. The intelligent, hard-working and intense Sales ranked sixth on the squad last year with 50 stops, with 5.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks. An instinctive player with a nose for the ball, he is a strong, physical athlete with good quickness. The former Butler Area HS standout is a potential post-season honors candidate. He is the top candidate at one of the outside linebacker spots and should remain a strong contributor on special teams. He earned his degree in marketing last May and is working on a second degree, in media studies. Sales is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and one of 10 returning Nittany Lions from western Pennsylvania. He was born on January 1, 1986, the day the fifth of Joe Paterno's seven teams to compile an unbeaten regular-season battled Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.
2007 Senior Season
A starter at outside linebacker in 12 games and a key special teams contributor, Sales had a productive campaign. He ranked sixth on the team with 50 tackles, with 5.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks (minus-19). He also forced and recovered one fumble. Sales finished the season with a strong effort in the Valero Alamo Bowl. He made six stops against Texas A&M, including a huge 11-yard sack at the Aggies' eight. On the next play, A.J. Wallace recovered a fumble at the Texas A&M 11 and Daryll Clark responded with a touchdown run to knot the game at 14 in the 24-17 Penn State win. Sales made four stops in the primetime 31-10 win over Notre Dame, including a sack. He also had a minus-yardage hit among his five stops against Buffalo and a sack at Michigan. Sales made five tackles at Illinois and six in the Ohio State game. He tied his career-high with eight stops at Michigan State, also recovering a fumble in Spartan territory that led to a touchdown. He saw action on 518 plays, led by 69 at Michigan State.
2006 Junior Season
Sales played in every game on defense and special teams, recording 17 tackles (10 solo). He was the top reserve to All-American Dan Connor at one of the outside linebacker posts. Sales made a season-high seven tackles in the shutout of Temple and added two stops each against Youngstown State, Northwestern and Illinois. He saw action on 166 snaps, topped by 23 against Temple.
2005 Sophomore Season
In his first season on the field, Sales played in every game, earning three starts at middle linebacker. He exhibited a great deal of promise, recording 19 tackles (10 solo) with two tackles for losses (minus-four) and one pass breakup. Sales made a season-high eight stops (five solo) against Cincinnati, including a TFL. He also had three hits in the big 17-10 win over Ohio State and the season-opening win over South Florida, which also included a minus-yardage play. Sales gained significant experience, playing on 199 snaps, led by 42 in starts against South Florida and Cincinnati. He also earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
2004 Freshman Season
Redshirt season. In the Blue-White game, Sales tied for game-high honors with seven tackles, including a tackle for loss, and a pass breakup.
Sales earned multiple all-county, All-Western Pennsylvania district and all-conference awards for Coach Garry Cathell at Butler Area HS. A three-year starter, as a senior he made 98 tackles, with 14 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. During his career, he made 265 tackles and had 20 sacks and five interceptions. He was named to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 25, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fab 22 and the Harrisburg Patriot-News Platinum 33. Sales was team captain, won the YMCA Scholar-Athlete Award and played in the 2004 Big 33 Classic. Sales also starred in track and basketball. He placed third in Pennsylvania in the discus and was an all-section pick on the basketball court, where he scored more than 1,200 points during his career.
Full name is Tyrell Alexander Sales. He is the son of Tom and Tamara Sales and has a younger sister, TeAndra. Sales is a marketing major in the Smeal College of Business, earning Academic All-Big Ten accolades in 2005 and '06. Born January 1, 1986 in Butler, Pa.