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Connor is among the candidates for the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club. He was among the three finalists for the 2006 Bednarik, which was captured by teammate Paul Posluszny for the second consecutive year. The award was first presented in 1995 in honor of former Philadelphia Eagles standout Chuck Bednarik.
Last year, Penn State became the first school to have a pair of Bednarik Award finalists in the 12 years the honor had been presented. Former Nittany Lion All-America linebacker LaVar Arrington won the Bednarik Award in 1999.
Connor also is among the candidates for The Lott Trophy, awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Named aftert Hall of Fame player Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy equally recognizes athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. Sponsored by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, the award is in its fourth year. Posluszny was one of three finalists for the 2006 Lott Trophy.
The Board of Directors of The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation annually donates $25,000 to the general scholarship fund of the University of the winner of The Lott Trophy. This year, the Foundation also will donate $5,000 to each of the universities of the other three finalists.
Connor previously had been named a candidate for the Nagurski Trophy, also presented to the nation's top defensive player.
The 6-3, 233-pound Connor previously was named a pre-season first team All-American by Athlon Sports' College Football 2007. Last season, he earned first team All-America honors from The Sporting News and was a second team Associated Press All-American. The former Strath Haven High School standout became the 13th linebacker to earn first team All-America honors at ¡°Linebacker U¡± under Coach Joe Paterno.
Connor was fifth in the Big Ten with 113 tackles last season and has 274 career stops, 98 away from Paul Posluszny's school record. He also recorded 9.0 tackles for losses, 5.0 sacks (minus-39 yards), led the team with three forced fumbles (sixth in Big Ten), made two interceptions and one safety. Connor should be among the top candidates for the Butkus, Bednarik, Rotary Lombardi, Lott and Nagurski awards this season.
Coach Joe Paterno's 42nd Penn State team returns 33 letterwinners and 15 starters for the 2007 season, which begins September 1 against Florida International (12:00 p.m., Big Ten Network) in Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions have a blockbuster 2007 home schedule that includes five bowl teams from 2006: Notre Dame (6:00 p.m., ESPN), Iowa (Oct. 6), Wisconsin (Oct. 13- Homecoming, 3:30 p.m., ABC), Ohio State (Oct. 27, 8:00 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) and Purdue (Nov. 3). The Nittany Lions will host Buffalo on Sept. 15 for a 12:00 p.m. kick that will be televised by the Big Ten Network, which launches in August.