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Fifty-One Football Student-Athletes Post 3.0 GPA or Higher in Fall Semester

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March 7, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State football team continued to excel in the classroom during the 2016 fall semester with 51 squad members earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average. This marks the seventh time in the last eight semesters (including summer sessions) that the Nittany Lions have had more than 50 student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA or better.

The 51 Nittany Lions with a 3.0 GPA or higher trails only the record 56 honorees from the fall of 2016 and the 55 recipients set by the 2008 fall semester for the most 3.0 students in a semester in football program history.

A total of 19 Nittany Lions posted a 3.5 GPA or higher in the fall semester, with 15 earning Dean’s List recognition for having 3.5 GPA or higher with 12 credits earned in undergraduate work. The Nittany Lion freshmen were impressive in the fall semester with 15 posting a 3.0 or higher. Overall, 47 football student-athletes own a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher after the fall semester, with 16 posting a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and their work in the classroom,” Head Coach James Franklin said. “Our young men are invested in getting a quality education and preparing themselves for life after football. We have had at least 50 guys with 3.0 GPAs in seven since we arrived on campus, which is impressive. I also want to acknowledge Tyler Yazujian on earning his second Academic All-America award, as well as Blake Gillikin and Cody Hodgens for having perfect 4.0 GPAs this past semester.”

The fall semester also saw 37 student-athletes improve their cumulative GPA since the 2016 spring semester. There were 37 Nittany Lions that earned all A’s and B’s this past semester. Additionally, 19 Nittany Lions earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition last fall.



CoSIDA Academic All-America® first team selection Tyler Yazujian (Royersford) owns an impressive 3.85 cumulative GPA in security risk analysis. Punter Blake Gillikin (Smyrna, Ga.) posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in the fall as a member of the Schreyer Honors College, while graduate transfer Cody Hodgens (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) also had a perfect fall semester.

Among the Nittany Lions to earn a semester with a 3.5 GPA or higher in the fall semester were: Gillikin, Hodgens, Yazujian, cornerback Kyle Alston (Robbinsville, N.J.), linebacker Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, N.J.), wide receiver Gordon Bentley (Ambler), offensive lineman Adam De Boef (State College), offensive lineman Brian Gaia (Pasadena, Md.), linebacker Jan Johnson (Mohnton), long snapper Zach Ladonis (Nescopeck), wide receiver Isaac Lutz (Reading), offensive lineman Charlie Shuman (Pittsford, N.Y.), quarterback Michael Shuster (Camp Hill), linebacker Brandon Smith (Winfield), offensive lineman Chance Sorrell (Middletown, Ohio), cornerback Garrett Taylor (Richmond, Va.), linebacker Von Walker (Mill Hall), wide receiver Christopher Welde (Newtown) and quarterback Jake Zembiec (Rochester, N.Y.).

The outstanding academic performance is the latest success in a long line of academic achievement for members of the Penn State football program, who consistently are at or near the top nationally in academic success:

• Fifteen members of the Penn State football team had earned their degrees prior to the Nittany Lions' appearance in the Rose Bowl;
• Penn State's all-time total of 65 Academic All-America® football honorees ranks second among all FBS institutions;
• The Nittany Lions' 20 Academic All-American® selections over the past 11 seasons (17 first team) lead the nation;
• The Penn State football team has had at least one first-team Academic All-American® in seven of the past 10 seasons;
• The Nittany Lions have 20 overall first-team selections since 2002;
• A total of 389 of Penn State football student-athletes, including 19 in 2016, have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors since 1993 for owning at least a 3.0 grade point average and being a letterwinner.

More than 4,400 new season tickets have been sold for the 2017 campaign. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2017 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.


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