The top three pillars of the program are in the video above — now check out who just missed the cut …
When discussing the greatest college football programs, one must look at the iconic blue and white of Penn State. The Nittany Lions have become a staple of the Big Ten, with their rich history of stingy defenses under legendary coach Joe Paterno.
After all, you don’t get the nickname “Linebacker U” for nothing — just look at LaVar Arrington’s production donning the blue and white.
With 22 inductees in the College Football Hall of Fame, there’s no doubting the amount of tremendous football players to make their mark at University Park.
|PENN STATE GREATS|
Linebacker | 1997-99
♦ All-American (1998-99)
♦ Butkus Award (1999)
Running Back | 1979-82
♦ All-American (1981-82)
♦ 3,398 rushing yards, 24 TDs
Running back | 1971-73
♦ Heisman Trophy (1973)
♦ All-American (1973)
Defensive End | 1996-99
♦ All-American (1999)
♦ PSU-record 33 career sacks
Quarterback | 1991-94
♦ All-American (1994)
♦ Davey O’Brien Award (1994)
Linebacker | 1968-70
♦ All-American (1970)
♦ 251 career tackles
Running back | 1999-02
♦ All-American (2002)
♦ PSU-record 5,045 all-purpose yds.
Tight end | 1966-68
♦ All-American (1967-68)
♦ Holds multiple PSU TE records
Courtney Brown was an absolute menace along the defensive line during his tenure at Penn State. He terrorized quarterbacks to the tune of 33 career sacks from 1996-99, which is the most in school history. His most productive season by far was his senior year in 1999, when he racked up 13.5 sacks, had 29 tackles for loss (a PSU record) and forced three fumbles, which earned him All-American honors and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award. His 70 career tackles for loss are a school record, as well as his six TFL in a 1997 game against Wisconsin.
Kerry Collins led the greatest offense in Penn State history. The Nittany Lions broke 14 school records in 1994, leading the nation in scoring (47.8 ppg) and total offense (520.2 ypg). Collins stole the show in the magical ‘94 campaign. He threw for 2,679 yards (a school record at the time, now third-most in PSU history) and still holds two school records for completion percentage in a season (66.7) and pass efficiency rating (172.86), as the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten and topped Oregon in the Rose Bowl to cap an undefeated season. For his efforts, Collins was named an All-American, won the Davey O’Brien (nation’s best quarterback) and Maxwell (nation’s most outstanding player) awards, as well as finishing fourth in the Heisman voting.
Penn State has a decorated history of linebackers and Jack Ham is certainly one of the school’s best. As a senior co-captain in 1970, Ham recorded 91 tackles and four interceptions, earning him All-American honors. He registered 251 tackles in his career — 143 of them solo — and helped the Nittany Lions to an unbeaten stretch from 1968-69. His four career blocked punts are the most in school history, as well as his three in 1968. Ham was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
There’s bursting onto the scene, and then there’s Larry Johnson’s 2002 season. After rushing for merely 337 yards as a junior the year before, Johnson exploded for a school-record 2,087 rushing yards on 271 carries (7.7 yards per carry), becoming the first player in Big Ten history to eclipse 2,000 yards for a season and the ninth in FBS history. He also racked up 20 rushing TDs and became the Nittany Lion to lead the nation in rushing (160.5 ypg) and all-purpose yards (204.2).
He was named an All-American and received the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award (player of the year) and Doak Walker Award (nation’s best running back), while finishing third in the Heisman voting. His 5,045 career all-purpose yards are the most in school history and he holds the top four rushing performances in school history, including his 327-yard outburst at Indiana in 2002.
Tight end Ted Kwalick is another Nittany Lion member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was an All-American in 1967 and 1968, catching 86 passes in his career and his 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns are the most totals by a tight end in PSU history. In 1968, he finished fourth in the Heisman voting with 31 catches for 403 yards and two scores. He was inducted into the hall of fame in 1989.