Trio of Nittany Lions Sign NFL Contracts
April 28, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; - Three members of Penn State's Top 10 defense from the 2008 season have signed with National Football League teams on the heels of the five Nittany Lions that were selected in the NFL Draft.
Cornerback Tony Davis (Warren, Ohio) signed with the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, defensive end Josh Gaines (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and safety Mark Rubin (Amherst, N.Y.) has signed with the St. Louis Rams.
The signing of the trio brings the total of 2008 Nittany Lions to be drafted or signed to eight, with other signings to be announced. The signings will be announced as NFL teams make their announcements.
Davis joins former Penn State All-America tackle Levi Brown, who was the No. 5 overall selection by Arizona in the 2007 NFL Draft and was instrumental in helping the Cardinals reach their first Super Bowl this past season. Rubin joins former Nittany Lion standout cornerback Justin King in St. Louis and Gaines is the lone former Penn Stater on the current Philadelphia roster.
Rubin graduated in August 2008, while Davis and Gaines earned their degrees last December.
Davis returned to cornerback in 2008, after one year at safety, and provided strong play all season. He earned the starting assignment at left cornerback all 13 games and helped the Nittany Lions rank in the Top 10 nationally in three of four of the primary team statistical categories. Penn State finished third in the Big Ten and 19th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Davis earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the media and coaches and was presented with a Special Award from the State College Quarterback Club at the team banquet. He made 46 tackles (29 solo), with two tackles for losses, one interception and five pass break-ups.
Gaines was an integral reason why the Nittany Lions were No. 8 in the nation in rushing defense at 93.2 ypg and led the Big Ten in rushing and total defense. A team co-captain, he anchored the D-line and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition. A three-year starter, he tied for third on the team with 4.0 sacks and ranked fourth with 7.0 tackles for loss last season. He made 31 tackles, including 22 solos, and had two pass break-ups in helping the Nittany Lions rank in the Top 10 nationally in three of four of the primary team statistical categories. Coming from a family of 11 children, Gaines was presented with a Special Award from the State College Quarterback Club at the team banquet.
One hit, one play, in one big game, likely established Rubin as a player who will forever be remembered in Nittany Lion lore. A starter at safety every game last season, Rubin's fumble hit on Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor provided the momentum boost that led to Penn State's game-winning fourth quarter touchdown in the dramatic13-6 victory. Rubin was huge in the win, recording a career-high 11 tackles (nine solo) and won the Pontiac Game Changing Performance, Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive accolades. Rubin was fifth on the team with 60 tackles, had one TFL, two interceptions and one huge fumble hit.
Prior to his huge effort in Columbus, Rubin may have been known best for defeating Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps in several Northeast regional championships when they were 12-14 years old. Rubin also distinguished himself as one of the Nittany Lions' best students. He began taking MBA classes during the 2008 fall semester. He graduated with a 3.80 grade point average and was selected a first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American®, one of a program-record four Nittany Lions so honored in 2008. A starter in six games as a true freshman wide receiver in 2004, he was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree as well.
Five Penn Staters were selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. Defensive end Aaron Maybin (Ellicott City, Md.) was the No. 11 overall selection, going to the Buffalo Bills, and the first Big Ten Conference player to be drafted this year. In the third round, the Detroit Lions selected All-America wide receiver/kick returner Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) and Deon Butler (Woodbridge, Va.), the Nittany Lions' career receptions leader, was picked by the Seattle Seahawks.
The New England Patriots selected All-America guard Rich Ohrnberger (East Meadow, N.Y.) in the fourth round. In the seventh round, the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers selected All-America center A.Q. Shipley, who hails from nearby Moon Township.
With the selection of the five players this year, 239 Nittany Lions have been drafted under Hall of Fame Coach Joe Paterno and more than 300 of his players have signed NFL contracts.