Trio of Nittany Lions Earn All-America Honors From The Sporting News
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; December 14, 2006 ¨CA trio of Penn State standouts have been named to The Sporting News All-America team.
Junior linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford, Pa.) earned first team All-America honors, while senior tackle Levi Brown (Norfolk, Va.) and senior linebacker Paul Posluszny (Aliquippa, Pa.) were second team selections.
Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Southern California were the only schools with three or more players on The Sporting News All-America team.
Earlier this week, five Nittany Lions were named to the Associated Press All-America team, the most for Penn State since having five honorees in 1994. Posluszny was selected to the AP first team for the second consecutive year and Connor was named to the second team. Brown was joined on the AP third team by senior defensive tackle Jay Alford (Orange, N.J.) and senior punter Jeremy Kapinos (Springfield, Va.), who became the first punter in school history to earn All-America accolades.
Penn State has had at least one first team All-American in 34 of Coach Joe Paterno¡¯s 41 seasons in Happy Valley.
A finalist for the 2006 Bednarik Award, Connor becomes the 13th linebacker at ¡°Linebacker U¡± to earn first team All-America honors under Paterno. Connor is the 77th Penn Stater selected a first team All-American a total of 90 times and the 61st Nittany Lion to earn first team All-America accolades a total of 73 times under the legendary coach.
Connor is in his second season as a starter at outside linebacker and is second on the squad and fourth in the Big Ten with 103 tackles. He is tied for second on team with 8.5 tackles for losses, is tied for third with 5.0 sacks (minus-39), leads with three forced fumbles (sixth in Big Ten), has two interceptions and one big safety on a sack vs. Illinois.
The 2003 Parade Linebacker of the Year and Jim Henry Award winner at Strath Haven High School, Connor is one of only three Big Ten players to earn conference Defensive Player of the Week honors twice this season. A member of the 2006 Butkus Award Watch List, he was recognized after making a season-high 13 stops vs. Akron, earning career-highs with 3.5 TFL for minus-23 yards and two sacks. Connor also earned Big Ten accolades in the 12-0 blanking of Purdue, as he made 12 tackles and grabbed an interception at the PSU 20, handing the Boilermakers their only shutout under Coach Joe Tiller.
Connor, who also made 12 tackles vs. Notre Dame and Illinois, is eighth on the Penn State career tackles list with 264.
Posluszny and Connor are just the second tandem of Nittany Lions to have 100 more tackles in the same season. Posluszny leads the Lions with 108 tackles and Connor has 103. 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.
Posluszny is the 2005 and ¡¯06 Bednarik Award winner, presented to the nation¡¯s top defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club. The 2005 Butkus Award winner as the nation¡¯s top linebacker, he also was a finalist for the 2006 Butkus and Rotary Lombardi Awards and the Lott Trophy.
A 2006 AP and Walter Camp first team All-American, Posluszny joins Dennis Onkotz (1968-69), Shane Conlan (1985-86) and LaVar Arrington (1998-99) as Nittany Lion linebackers that have earned first team All-America accolades twice.
Posluszny is the leader of one of the nation¡¯s top defenses, recording a team-high 108 tackles, which ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten. A starter in the last 36 games, he is the school¡¯s career tackle leader (364) and the first Nittany Lion to earn three 100-tackle seasons. The former Hopewell High School standout has 65 solo tackles, with 7.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and four pass break-ups. He has led team in tackles eight times this season, including the last three games, and has an opportunity to become the first Penn Stater to lead the team in tackles three consecutive years.
Posluszny also is a two-time first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American was selected the 2006 Academic All-American of the Year among Division I football players.
Posluszny and Connor have played a significant role in Penn State fielding a Top 20 defense for the third consecutive season. The Nittany Lions rank in the top 20 nationally in rushing (87.8 ypg, 10th), scoring (14.8 ppg, 11th) total (279.0 ypg, 16th) and pass efficiency defense (104.4 rating, 11th) and sacks (38, T 8th).
A 2006 co-captain along with Posluszny, Brown also was selected a 2006 Walter Camp second team All-American and earned second team AP All-America honors in 2005. Arguably Penn State¡¯s best offensive lineman in the past 10 years, Brown has started 44 of the last 47 games and is a two-time All-Big Ten selection.
Brown has been instrumental in Penn State gaining more than 200 rushing yards four times this season and helping tailback Tony Hunt become just the fifth Nittany Lion to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards and the sixth Penn Stater to earn a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
The Nittany Lions (8-4) will meet No. 17 Tennessee (9-3) in the Outback Bowl on New Year¡¯s Day in Tampa, Fla. Penn State will be playing in its third January bowl game in the past five years and 33rd bowl game overall under Paterno, the all-time leader in post-season wins (21) and appearances (33). The game will kick off at 11:00 a.m. and air on ESPN and the Penn State Sports Network.