Penn State Football: The All-Time Dream Team
As the United States men's basketball team wrapped up another gold in the summer Olympics, the debate for some will continue over whether this year's team, led by LeBron James and Kevin Durant and Hall-of-Fame bound Kobe Bryant could take down the 1992 Dream Team that featured Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and so many more Hall of Famers.
This also gives many of us a chance to take some time and take a look at what players would make up a dream team for our favorite franchises and college programs. When it comes to forming an all-time dream team for Penn State there are some good names to sort through, and that means there are plenty of great names that must be left out of the mix.
On the following slides we have the first team for our Penn State Dream Team. Feel free to argue your case for any player not named on any particular slide. That is part of the fun with a topic like this.
Quarterback: Kerry Collins
This one should be a slam dunk. Penn State is not known for turning out great quarterbacks at the same rate as a school like Southern California, so it makes it even easier to make this selection. Kerry Collins was flat-out the best quarterback to play at Penn State in the program's history. Other players may have performed well under center, but Collins remains the best.
Running Back: Curt Warner
Of all the offensive positions to decide on, this was the toughest. There were plenty of great names to mull over, including Ki-Jana Carter, Larry Johnson, John Cappelletti and Lydell Mitchell, but in the end the nod went to Curt Warner.
Warner gets the Dream Team roster spot because until Evan Royster passed him in 2010, he remained the school's all-time leading rusher. He also did so in fewer games than Royster was able to play. Warner brings everything you like about a dependable running back to the table, with a decent balance of speed, acceleration and trusty hands.
To date, no Penn State tailback has piled up more 100-yard rushing games, which shows he is dependable and consistent too.
Fullback: Franco Harris
The fullback position may not be what it once was in the game of football, but if we are putting together a dream team it would be nearly impossible to leave Franco Harris off the field. Penn State has had some decent fullbacks over the years, but none as good as Harris.
Harris scored 24 touchdowns from 1969-'71 and put together 2,000 rushing yards for Penn State. If you can place him in the same backfield with Curt Warner you will have the foundation for a very strong running game.
Wide Receivers: Bobby Engram, O.J. McDuffie, Kenny Jackson
We are going to go ahead and pick three wide receivers for our dream team. Lining up and running routes for Kerry Collins will be his former teammate, Bobby Engram (pictured). Few receivers have been able to match what Engram could do in Penn State's passing game and his 31 career receiving touchdowns continue to lead the school's record books.
Joining Engram will be the go-to receiver he replaced, O.J. McDuffie. McDuffie and Engram are tied in the school's record books for most receptions ins a season with 63 apiece, so it would seem they should complement each other pretty well and give Collins some reliable options.
For good measure we will throw Kenny Jackson in the mix. Jackson has 25 career receiving touchdowns for Penn State, which is second only to Engram. With these three wide receivers on the field there should be no worries about scoring through the air.
Tight End: Ted Kwalick
This spot almost went to another member of the 1994 Nittany Lions.
It is difficult to pass up on College Football Hall of Fame tight end Ted Kwalick, who ended his collegiate career with more receiving yards and touchdowns than Kyle Brady, who also received strong consideration.
Kwalick had 1,343 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Only Andrew Quarless has recorded more receiving yards by a tight end in Penn State history, but Kwalick averages about three more yards per reception than Quarless or Brady.
You can make a case for Brady, and perhaps even Quarless, but we'll stick with a Hall of Famer with better numbers here.
Offensive Line: Keith Dorney, Mike Munchak, Stefen Wisniewski, Steve Wisniewski, Levi Brown
Left Tackle - Keith Dorney
Left Guard - Mike Munchak
Center - Stefen Wisniewski (pictured)
Right Guard - Steve Wisniewski
Right Tackle - Levi Brown
This should be a very solid offensive line for Penn State. Having the Wisniewski combo in the middle of the line along with Mike Munchak, with former first-round NFL draft picks Keith Dorney and Levi Brown flanking the outside of the offensive line, Kerry Collins should have all kinds of time to find an open receiver and the running game should have some holes to plow through.
Defensive Line: Courtney Brown, Jimmy Kennedy, Jared Odrick, Dave Robinson
Left Defensive End - Courtney Brown (pictured)
Defensive Tackle - Jimmy Kennedy
Defensive Tackle - Jared Odrick
Right Defensive End - Dave Robinson
Now this is a defensive line that should bring some pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
Jimmy Kennedy and Courtney Brown will bring some great size to one side of the line, making it nearly impossible for a running back to slip through any cracks.
On the other side what is lacking in sheer size will be made up in defensive pressure with Jared Odrick and old-timer and College Football Hall of Famer Dave Robinson having the skill to get through the line and almost force a running back to try the other direction.
Linebackers: Jack Ham, LaVar Arrington, Paul Posluszny
Finally, the signature position at Penn State. Boy do we have some serious names to consider. If we put together a second and third team for this list we would still be able to put together a linebacker crop worthy of first-team recognition. But alas, we must cut our Dream Team down to three players as we fill out our 4-3 defense.
We'll start with one of the first icons at the position at Penn State, Jack Ham. Ham, a college football hall of famer, has career numbers that have since been pushed down the all-time list, but he remains one of the legends in program history. Joining Ham will be one of the more recent stars at the linebacker position, Paul Posluszny. Both bring some of the most solid tackling form and skills to the field, making it difficult for opposing players to get too far down field. Having the two of them on the field would make any defense a tough one to play against with their ball awareness and tackling ability.
But we're throwing LaVar Arrington onto the field too, to bring a little tenacity to the defense, and perhaps a little more athleticism. Arrington has a tendency to play off the basic schemes and go off on his own looking for a big play, and with some more disciplined players like Posluszny and Ham backing him up, that should be just fine in this dream defensive unit.
Ham, Posluszny and Arrington? Offensive coordinators would have nightmares.
Defensive Backs: Mark Robinson, Neal Smith, Michael Zordich, Alan Zemaitis
Corner Back - Mark Robinson
Free Safety - Neal Smith (pictured)
Hero - Michael Zordich
Corner Back - Alan Zemaitis
Admittedly, the defensive secondary may the weak spot on this dream team, but with the front seven assembled that may not be an alarming concern.
We will let Michael Zordich lead the secondary at the hero position, with Neal Smith from the late 1960s patrolling at free safety. We'll give the man-to-man responsibilities to Mark Robinson and Alan Zemaitis, although you can probably make a strong case for some other candidates as well.
Special Teams: Brett Conway, Jeremy Boone, Dennis Onkotz, Kenny Watson
Kicker - Brett Conway
Kick Returner - Kenny Watson, Blair Thomas
Punter - Jeremy Boone (pictured)
Punt returner - Dennis Onkotz
The special teams will be in good shape with this unheralded group.
Brett Conway was one of the best kickers at Penn State under Joe Paterno and he will handle the dream team's extra point duties, because there probably will not be too many field goals with this group. When the team will have to punt on those rare occasions, Jeremy Boone will put some power into the football and try to lock down the opponent inside the 20-yard line.
Curt Warner and O.J. McDuffie were two of the best kickoff returners for Penn State in their time, and having them on our dream team roster gives this team a chance to use them in that area as well. But we'll keep them off the field for those situations and hope that A.J. Wallace or Blair Thomas can break loose.
On punt returns, we'll send Dennis Onkotz back to haul in the football and see what he can do. Onkotz recorded 619 punt return yards and a pair of touchdowns from 1967-'69, and his return average was pretty steady each season. He may not have breakaway speed like Derrick Williams, who received some consideration for this spot, but his reliable hands should lead to some solid field position for the Nittany Lions.
Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast, managing editor of Nittany Lions Den and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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