5 Underrated Penn State Players from the Last 20 Years

Barry Leonard@@barryleonardjrAnalyst IIIAugust 8, 2012

5 Underrated Penn State Players from the Last 20 Years

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    Ask any serious college football fan to name the best Penn State players of the last 20 years and you are sure to hear familiar names. Names like Johnson, Arrington, Collins, and Carter will be the first that come to mind.

    Those are the obvious names.

    This list looks at five players from the past two decades who may only be known to diehard Penn State fans. These are players who would not make any national list, but still hold their own spot in Penn State Football lure. Some on the list even held Penn State records—solidifying their underrated status.

    These guys are by no means no-names, but they are usually not considered among the all-time greats at Penn State.

    The players listed all played important roles on their respective teams. However, they were usually overshadowed by All-Americans, award winners, and NFL prospects. They were instrumental in victories without gaining the same notoriety  as several teammates.

    Penn State fans should recognize all the names. Again, you won't find the typical superstars on this list, just solid players who contributed to the Penn State program.

Mike Archie, Running Back (1992-1995)

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    Mike Archie was a four-year letterman who was a big part of the Nittany Lion's offense. Although he shared time with Ki-Jana Carter, Archie still found a way to be productive. At 5'8'', the quick, shifty Archie could hide behind the offensive line before darting from the backfield.

    Archie was particularly skilled at catching passes out of the backfield. He caught a total of 77 passes for eight touchdowns in his career.

    Archie was a key member of the very successful 1994 team that won the Rose Bowl and finished the year undefeated.

Kevin Kelly, Kicker (2005-2008)

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    It's not often that kickers are celebrated in lists. Kevin Kelly deserves to be on this list. It's easy to overlook him since he is of course, just a kicker.

    However, take a closer look at Kelly and you will see that he is Penn State's all-time leading scorer with 425 career points. Kelly's leg was called upon and counted on often during his time as a Nittany Lion.

    Whenever a clutch kick was needed, Kelly was there. Fans my remember his early years where he would put them through agony by missing several chip-shot kicks.

    He was able to eventually improve and turn into one of the most consistent kickers in the county.  

Gino Capone, Linebacker (2000-2003)

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    Gino Capone makes the list just for having the coolest name. Aside from that, he was the core of the Penn State defense in the early 2000's. Capone was a force at middle linebacker, tackling anything that came his way.

    Penn State is known as "Linebacker U" thanks to all of the great ones that have played the position there. While Capone is not as famous as his linebacker counterparts, he deserves his spot in Penn State history.

    Capone's teams struggled for the better part of his career. While the offense struggled during those years, the defense continued to play well and keep them in games. He stood out as a leader on defense.

    Capone began the 2003 season on the watch list for the Butkis Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. Though he never became a finalist, he did lead the Nittany Lions in tackles that year.

Chafie Fields, Wide Receiver (1996-1999)

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    Chafie Fields was an electrifying receiver who could beat you with both his catching and running ability. Fields was a playmaker who had tremendous speed. Aside from catching, he often carried the ball on reverses.

    Fields is perhaps known best by fans for his playmaking ability and game-changing plays.

    During the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, he had an amazing 84-yard touchdown run on a double reverse. Then, in 1999, Fields grabbed a 79-yard touchdown with just over a minute left to come back and beat a tough Miami team.

    Fields ranks 10th on the Penn State all-time receiving list with 1,437 yards and 88 catches.

Kenny Watson, Running Back (1996-2000)

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    Kenny Watson never really got a chance to stand out as a running back. He was one of four runners who all shared the carries. Watson had value because he was a threat that could play multiple positions.

    He was known for his receiving ability out of the backfield and often lined up at the wide receiver position.

    Watson is best known to Penn State fans for his ability to return kicks. He holds the Nittany Lions record for career kickoff yardage (1,506).

    Watson was a valuable piece of the Penn State teams he was a part of. His ability to play different positions and his big play ability on kickoffs was a commodity that any head coach would love to have.