Penn State has always been called Linebacker U, but is it really? After looking over their past Linebackers I would have to say they have a legitimate claim on the title.
I couldn’t decide on my top 10 so I made it my top 11 all time Penn State Linebackers.
1. Jack Ham: A 1988 NFL Hall of Fame inductee is considered one of the best Linebackers of all time, so you would probably have to call him the best Penn State has produced. He played on two
11-0 teams in college and 4 Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2. LaVar Arrington: Phenomenal athlete ran a 10.85 100 meters in high school, he was recruited by Georgetown, North Carolina and the big boys for basketball. In football, he ran for over 4,000 yards as a Running Back. He was a first team All American in 1998 and 1999, and he won the Butkus, Bednarik and the Lambert awards. At 6-3, 257 he was the second player picked in the 2000 NFL Draft behind teammate Courtney Brown. He was a standout in the NFL for 8 seasons.
3. Paul Posluszny: The 6-2, 242 Posluszny was a two time Consensus All American. He won the Butkus award once and the Bednarski award twice. He was a 2nd round pick by the Buffalo Bills and now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has had a really good NFL career.
4. Shane Conlan: One of the all time great Linebackers at Penn State or anywhere else. Was a 2 time All American but a Consensus All American in 1986. He was part of 2 national championships at Penn State in 1982 and in 1986. Conlan was the 8th player picked in the 1st round of the 1987 NFL Draft and was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Conlan was an All Pro 3 seasons, making him a great player on every level
5. Greg Buttle: This Linwood, New Jersey product was one of the better Linebackers for the Lions. He still holds the single game tackle record with 24 and the all time season tackle record of 165 for Penn State, His all time tackle record at Penn State was finally broken by Paul Posluszny. Buttle was a Consensus All American in 1975 and then drafted by the New York Jets who seemed to love Penn State Linebackers. He played for the Jets for 9 seasons and was a starter at Linebacker and one of
their better players.
6. Andre Collins: Butkus finalist and an All American in 1989. Jersey guy Collins was a 2nd round pick by the Washington Redskins and he was a standout in the NFL with several teams playing for 10 seasons. Collins now serves as the Director of Retire Players for the National Football League Players Association.
7. Brandon Short: Teammate of LaVar Arrington and an All American. Short was a highly sought after recruit out of McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He played on the varsity every season in high school in both football and basketball. The New York football Giants took Short with their 4th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft and he played in the NFL for 7 years. He got his MBA from Columbia Business School in 2010.
8. Dan Connor: He was an All American in his last two years at Penn State and passed Paul Posluszny on he all time Penn State career tackles list. In high school, Connor rushed for 4,531 yards in high school in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Connor was a 3rd round draft pick where he played for four seasons before moving on to several other NFL teams.
9. Michael Mauti: Mauti should not only be remembered for his greatness at Linebacker, but also as the glue that held the Penn State program together in 2012 during the scandals. He was a 1st team
All American in 2012. The 6-3, 240 Mauti was a sprinter in track as a high school athlete running the 200 meters in 23.24 seconds. That’s not fast for a sprinter, but it is for a Linebacker. He spurned the SEC to go North and play for Penn State after growing up in Mandeville, Louisiana. He currently
plays for the Minnesota Vikings. I actually enjoyed watching the Penn State Nittany Lions more in 2012 with Mauti at Linebacker than I did any of the last years of Joe Paterno. That 2012 team lacked talent, but they played with a lot of heart.
10. Ed O’Neil: All American Linebacker for the Penn State Nittany Lions and a key member of it’s undefeated 1973 team. He was a 1st round draft pick by the Detroit Lions in the 1974 NFL Draft and played in Detroit for 6 seasons before ending his career in Green Bay. After playing football, he got into coaching.
11. Dennis Onkotz: Consensus All American in 1968 and 1969. He was fast enough to return punts for the Lions. Yet another Penn State Linebacker picked in the draft by the New York Jets. He was injured as a rookie and had to give up football.
The rest of the top Penn State Linebackers and there are a lot of them.
Sean Lee: Sean Lee could have been one of the best if not for injuries. He was a 2nd round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys where he has been a standout when healthy.
Kurt Allerman: He was chosen as an All American in 1976 and was drafted in the 3rd round by the St Louis Cardinals and he played in the NFL for 8 seasons.
Mark D’Onofrio: He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Green Bay Packers and became a rookie starter but was forced to give up football due to injury. Is currently not a very popular Defensive Coordinator with the Miami Hurricanes.
Reggie Givens: This smaller Linebacker made up for lack of size with great speed. He was a high school All American from Virginia and started as a true freshman at Penn State. He was a 4 year starter there before being drafted in the 8th round by the Dallas Cowboys. He bounced around the
league for a while and in the CFL.
Gerald Hodges: The Woodbury, New Jersey standout supposedly ran a 4.46 40 in high school but ran a 4.7 for the NFL scouts at the Combine. He was All Big 10 his junior year and 2nd team All Big 10 his senior year. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 4th round of the 2013 Draft and plays there currently
NaVorro Bowman: Bowman played high school football in Maryland at Suitland High School in Forestville. He played Running Back and Linebacker in high school. The 6-0, 242 Bowman was an All Big 10 player before leaving Penn State after his junior season and being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers where he is a current starter.
Terry Killens: Killens was drafted in the 3rd round by the Houston Oilers and played for the Titans, 49ers and the Seahawks.
Keith Goganious: After playing Linebacker at Penn State, Goganious was picked in the 3rd round of the 1992 by the Buffalo Bills and played in the NFL for 5 seasons and is currently a football coach.
Don Graham: A 4th round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Graham played in the NFL for a brief period.
Scott Radecic: The Pittsburgh area product was a 2nd round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1984 and he played 12 seasons in the NFL with the Chiefs, Bills and Colts.
Walker Lee Ashley: Ashley was a Linebacker on the Penn State national championship team of 1982. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1983 draft and he played there for 6 years before he left for Kansas City for a year. He returned to the Vikings for a season before hanging up his cleats. He got in a little trouble after returning to his home area in New Jersey after football.
Chet Parlavecchio: 6th round pick by Green Bay, but never played much in the NFL. He is currently a coach with the Tennessee Titans. Another player for the Nittany Lions from New Jersey.
Matt Millen: Millen is an interesting story. He was actually an All American Defensive Tackle at Penn State, but he was really small for an NFL Tackle at 6-2, 250. Millen was incredibly intense and was drafted by the Raiders in the 2nd round of the 1980 draft and he was moved to Linebacker.
Millen played for the Raiders, 49ers and the Redskins and won Super Bowls with all of them. He has 4 Super Bowl rings and retired after 12 seasons and became General Manager of the Detroit Lions. Detroit fans would say he was the worst in history. He has worked as a commentator on college games as well as the NFL. He’s quite the character.
Lance Mehl: Penn State gets most of their talent in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio. Mehl came out of Ohio and was an All American for the Nittany Lions. Lance Mehl was the leading tackler on the 1978 Nittany Lion team and picked in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He was a Jet for 8 seasons making All Pro one season.
Rich Milot: A late round draft pick by the Washington Redskins, he played his entire 9 year NFL career there and took part in 2 Super Bowl winning teams.
Ron Crosby: Another McKeesport, Pennsylvania member of the Nittany Lions Linebacker club. Crosby played for the Saints for a season and then 5 for the New York Jets before moving on to the United States Football League for a couple of seasons.
Bruce Bannon: Consensus All American in 1972 and another talented guy from New Jersey.
John Skorupan: Mid round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills, he wound up on the New York Giants and was a starter at Outside Linebacker before the great Linebacker ever took his spot, Lawrence Taylor.
John Ebersole: Another great Linebacker from early Joe Paterno times. He was taken in the 4th round by the New York Jets where he played for 8 seasons.
Mike Hull: Penn State’s leading tackler in 2014, Hull moved inside after starting at an Outside Linebacker position in 2013. Hull signed a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins. He ran the 100 meters in 11.56 100 meters when he was in high school which isn’t fast, but it’s not bad for a Middle Linebacker.