All-American Connor Returning To Penn State For Senior Season
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; January 12, 2007 ¨C All-America linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford, Pa.) today announced he will remain at Penn State for his senior season.
¡°We gave it some thought and explored options, but it wasn¡¯t what I wanted right now,¡± Connor said. ¡°This team is very close to getting some things done and I want to help make it happen. If things work out right, the NFL opportunity will be there. You¡¯re only a college senior once. I¡¯m looking forward to next season.¡±
Connor is a Criminal Law & Justice major and on schedule to graduate next year. His parents, James and Carol, are educators and very pleased with the decision. ¡°We were curious about the next level, but Dan¡¯s heart was always with the team and being back on campus,¡± said James Connor.
A two-year starter, Connor will be looked to for leadership and a continuation of his highly productive play for a defense that loses All-Americans Paul Posluszny (Aliquippa, Pa.) and Jay Alford (Orange, N.J.), as well as rush end Tim Shaw (Livonia, Mich.).
Connor emerged as one of the nation¡¯s premier linebackers this past season, earning first team All-America honors by The Sporting News and second-team accolades by the Associated Press. The Wallingford, Pa., native was one of three finalists for the Bednarik Award, presented by the Maxwell Football Club to the nation¡¯s top defensive player. Posluszny captured the honor for the second consecutive year.
Connor is the 13th linebacker at ¡°Linebacker U¡± to earn first team All-America honors under Joe Paterno.
A starter in the last 20 games, Connor was second on the squad and fifth in the Big Ten with 113 tackles this past season. He was third with 9.0 tackles for losses, tied for third with 5.0 sacks (minus-39), led the Nittany Lions with three forced fumbles (eighth in Big Ten), made two interceptions and a pair of pass break-ups and one big safety on a sack vs. Illinois.
Connor (113) and Posluszny (116) became just the second tandem of Nittany Lions to record 100 or more tackles in the same season. The only previous time Penn State has had a pair of 100-plus plus tacklers in the same season was 1989, when linebacker Andre Collins recorded 130 and linebacker Brian Chizmar had 110. Penn State began keeping tackle records in 1969.
The 2003 Parade Linebacker of the Year and Jim Henry Award winner at Strath Haven High School, Connor was one of only three Big Ten players to earn conference Defensive Player of the Week honors twice in 2006. A Butkus Award candidate, Connor concluded his junior season by recording a team-high 10 tackles and combining with linebacker Sean Lee to force a fumble in Penn State¡¯s 20-10 victory over then No. 17 Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. He made a season-high 13 tackles vs. Akron and had 12 stops against Notre Dame and Purdue.
Connor is tied for fifth on the Penn State career tackles list with 274. Posluszny is the school career leader with 372 hits.
Connor has been instrumental in helping the Nittany Lion defense rank in the top 15 nationally each of the past three seasons in total, scoring and pass efficiency defense, with a pair of top 10 finishes in rushing defense and sacks.
Coach Paterno¡¯s squad returns 15 starters for the 2007 season.