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Jan. 24, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; - When the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers clash in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, Penn State Football again will be well-represented on the field and sidelines.
Former Nittany Lion tight end Andrew Quarless (2006-09) is a rookie with Green Bay, while former Penn State All-American Jeremy Kapinos (2003-06) is the Steelers' punter Darren Perry, a first-team All-America safety at Penn State, is the Packers' safeties coach. Perry is a former Pittsburgh standout safety and assistant coach.
For the 40th time in the Super Bowl's 45-game history, at least one Penn State alumnus will be a member of one of the participating teams, and, once again, at least one former Nittany Lion is guaranteed of being on the NFL Championship team. Thirty-two former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 48 Super Bowl rings, most recently Sean McHugh and Scott Paxson with Pittsburgh's Super Bowl XLIII team two years ago.
There are 32 former Nittany Lions on NFL rosters, placing Penn State in the top 12 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.
Penn State is joined by Michigan and Ohio State as the Big Ten Conference schools with multiple players on the Green Bay and Pittsburgh active rosters.
In addition to the three former players, two Pittsburgh staff members have Penn State ties. Former Nittany Lion Jim Bradley is the Steelers' orthopedic physician and Penn State graduate John Norwig is Pittsburgh's head trainer.
The Packers selected Quarless in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He is the first rookie from Penn State to play on a Super Bowl team since Jay Alford helped the New York Giants to the Super Bowl XLII title.
From Uniondale, N.Y., Quarless has started four games this year. During the regular season he made 21 receptions for 238 yards (11.3), including his first NFL touchdown catch in a 28-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings. His long reception was 23 yards. Quarless has made four catches for 41 yards in helping the Packers win three straight road games to earn their fifth Super Bowl berth.
Quarless capped his superb senior season in the 2010 Capital One Bowl win over LSU by making a career-best and Penn State bowl record eight receptions for 88 yards. The eight grabs gave him 41 for the season, breaking the school record for catches in a season by a tight end (38 by Tony Stewart in 2000). The former Uniondale High School standout was third on the team with 41 receptions for 536 yards (13.1) and three touchdowns, including a career-long 60-yard score in the win at Michigan. Quarless started every game during the 2009 season and made 31 career starts. He made 87 career catches for 1,146 yards and eight touchdowns.
Kapinos has been the Steelers' punter the past six games in helping Pittsburgh earn an NFL record-tying eighth Super Bowl berth. The Springfield, Va. native was signed by the Steelers on Dec. 7 and averaged 41.4 yards on his 14 punts over the last four regular season games, with five punts inside the 20. He delivered a season-long 59-yard punt at Cleveland in Week 17, averaging 56.0 yards on his two punts against the Browns.
The former All-Met selection at West Springfield High School was the Packers' punter for the 16 regular season games in 2009 and four contests in 2008. Kapinos punted in one game with the New York Jets in 2007 and one game with the Indianapolis Colts (vs. Houston) during the 2010 season.
Kapinos earned Associated Press third-team All-America honors and was finalist for the Ray Guy Award as a senior in 2006. The Nittany Lions' career leader with 251 punts and 10,476 punting yards, he was Penn State's punter from 2003-06. His 41.9 average in 2003 remains a school record by a PSU freshman. Kapinos owns four of Penn State's top nine game punting averages all-time, topped by his 52.0 average vs. Purdue in 2004. His 41.7 career average is No. 5 in the school record books. Kapinos was selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week four times in his career and earned second-team all-conference accolades in 2006.
Perry is in his second season as Green Bay's safeties coach and ninth year as an NFL assistant coach. A 1991 first-team All-American as a Nittany Lion safety, Perry previously coached with the Oakland Raiders (2007-08) and coached the Steelers' defensive backs from 2003-06, helping Pittsburgh win Super Bowl XL.
From Chesapeake, Va., Perry made six interceptions as a senior in 1991, helping the Nittany Lions finish No. 3 in the polls with an 11-2 record. His 15 career interceptions remain tied for No. 2 on the Penn State career list and his three career interception returns for touchdowns are tied with Dennis Onkotz for the school record. Perry was selected by the Steelers in the 1992 NFL Draft and he became an immediate starter, grabbing 32 interceptions in his seven seasons in Pittsburgh. He finished his NFL career with New Orleans in 2000, making three more interceptions to up his NFL career total to 35.
Dr. James Bradley is in his 19th season as the Steelers' orthopedic physician. He lettered in 1973 and '74 at defensive back for the Nittany Lions. A two-year starter, Bradley was a team co-captain in 1974, helping lead the Lions to a 10-2 mark, capped by a victory in the Cotton Bowl. Bradley was the first of three brothers to play for Joe Paterno, with Tom (1975-78) and Matt (1978-81) later making their mark. Tom is entering his 33rd season as a member of the Penn State coaching staff, the last 11 overseeing the defense, which has ranked among the nation's top 10 since the 2004 season.
John Norwig is the Steelers' head trainer. Norwig earned his bachelor's degree from Penn State in 1979 and his master's in 1984 from the College of Health and Human Development. He was a member of the Vanderbilt training staff from 1985-91 before joining the Steelers.
More than 360 Nittany Lions have signed NFL contracts under Paterno's tutelage. The Hall of Fame coach has seen 245 of his players drafted by NFL squads, including 33 first round draft choices. Miami selected All-America defensive tackle Jared Odrick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Four Nittany Lions have been first round draft choices in the past five NFL drafts.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, six Penn State football student-athletes were selected, tied with Iowa for highest among Big Ten schools. Penn State was tied for fifth nationally for the highest number of 2010 draft picks.
The Nittany Lions return 16 starters for the 2011 season, (7 offense, 8 defense, 1 specialist), as well as 17 players that have starting experience. Penn State opens its 125th season Sept. 3 vs. Indiana State in Beaver Stadium and Alabama visits Happy Valley on Sept. 10 for the first time since 1989.