Penn State Football: Power Ranking Nittany Lions' 5 Best Seniors
With no postseason play on the horizon, the book is about to officially close on the college careers of a group of young men.
This Saturday, 17 Nittany Lions will don the blue and white for the final time: Kyle Baublitz, Kevin Blanchard, Alex Butterworth, Glenn Carson, Bryan Davie, Brandon Felder, Garry Gilliam, Adam Gress, Ty Howle, DaQuan Jones, Alex Kenney, Matt Lehman, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, Eric Shrive, John Urschel, Malcolm Willis and Pat Zerbe.
Whether it's that their NCAA eligibility has run out or they are deciding to move on to the next stage in their lives, each of them decided to stay at Penn State when they easily could have transferred elsewhere due to the sanctions.
Some might not have seen the field much, but others were fortunate to log valuable time and contribute on their respective units.
Here's a list of the members of Penn State's 2013 senior class who had the most productive careers.
Player information courtesy of Penn State's official website.
5. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, Safety
After redshirting in 2009, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong was primarily a special teams player during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He finally broke into the starting lineup in 2012.
A natural safety, he's been placed in a new role this year: linebacker. A rotational player on the outside with Nyeem Wartman, Obeng-Agyapong has done a decent job given the late switch.
In 2013, he has notched 33 tackles to go along with two tackles for loss and a sack. He'll enter his final game as a Nittany Lion just six tackles shy of 100 for his career.
Fifth on the list, Obeng-Agyapong has played with passion and intensity throughout his career. He's stepped in wherever he's been needed, and head coach Bill O'Brien has noticed this.
"He's one of our guys who is a multi-role guy,'' O'Brien said about the Bronx native.
Obeng-Agyapong played in every game he has dressed for as a Nittany Lion. He already has a degree in information sciences and technology and is working toward another one in risk analysis.
4. Malcolm Willis, Safety
Willis, like Obeng-Agyapong, came to State College as part of the 2009 recruiting class. In all, he's turned in a fairly nice career.
He was a contributor on special teams during 2010 and the first part of 2011 before injuries forced him into more playing time on defense. He started the final six games that season and actually ended up finishing sixth on the team with 54 tackles.
As a full-time starter in 2012 and 2013, Willis has notched 103 tackles over the course of those two years and has grabbed one interception.
One of Willis' best attributes is his leadership ability. He's been looked to as a leader amongst a younger secondary this season. Entering the year, Willis was second on the team with 17 career starts.
He's already earned his degree in recreation, parks and tourism management. It is unclear what his future in football might hold.
3. DaQuan Jones, Defensive Tackle
One of the more promising prospects of the group, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones was one of the few in this year's senior class who played some snaps as a freshman.
Initially thought to be a redshirt candidate in 2010, Jones impressed coaches so much in practice during his freshman season that they had to play him. After not playing in the first four games, he played in every game after that and even had a sack in the Outback Bowl against Florida.
Heading into this weekend, Jones has accumulated 92 career tackles, with 56 of those coming this season. He also has 15.5 career tackles for loss to his credit.
While he's in the middle of the pack here in terms of most productive careers, Jones might be the Nittany Lions' top senior prospect. The reason he isn't higher up on this list is because he's been overshadowed a bit by guys like Devon Still and Jordan Hill. This year was the only year in which he was able to be the top dog on the defensive line.
Jones majored in criminology and, according to his bio page on Penn State's official site, even spent some time interning with the State College Police Department. He'll be selected at some point during the 2014 NFL draft.
2. John Urschel, Offensive Guard
Urschel finally broke into the offensive line rotation in 2011 after redshirting in 2009. He's been a mainstay on the unit ever since.
The New York native has started every game at right guard for the Nittany Lions the past two seasons and was an important part of a Penn State offense that was arguably the best in the Big Ten in 2012. While you won't find his name on the stat sheet, the fact that he got consistent playing time on a Big Ten offensive line for three straight years is production in that sense.
On paper, it didn't seem as though Urschel would stand out at Penn State. The 2009 recruiting class he was a part of featured seven offensive lineman, and Scout.com had Urschel ranked as the lowest of the bunch.
Not only has he stood out on the field amongst the others from the 2009 class, but he's also stood out off the field amongst the entire Nittany Lion team. Back in July, he offered this profound perspective to his peers regarding life aside from football:
Don’t limit yourselves to the stereotypes that the media has created for you. Don’t listen to what the outside world tells you football players are supposed to do. Aspire to something greater.
If the NFL isn't in his future, that "something greater" could be in the form of Urschel's fallback plan. He's already completed his bachelor's degree in mathematics as well as a master's and is currently working toward a second master's. He taught a math class at Penn State this past summer and even had a paper published in an academic journal.
1. Glenn Carson, Inside Linebacker
He might not be the most talked about or the biggest NFL prospect, but linebacker Glenn Carson has been the most productive of the bunch.
Despite being a part of Penn State's 2009 recruiting class, Carson didn't enroll until January 2010. Since then, he's played in every game and has been a starter for the past three seasons. Even though he's been nicked up here and there, he's still found a way to be ready for game day.
Aside from his freshman campaign, Carson hasn't had a season with less than 74 tackles. He entered last weekend's contest against Nebraska with 246 career tackles, and later in the game, he surpassed legendary Nittany Lion linebacker Jack Ham's career number.
Despite being overshadowed by the likes of Mike Mauti and Gerald Hodges the past few years, Carson quietly asserted himself as one of Penn State's most productive players. That production earned him some notice this past summer, as his name was featured on the Butkus Award watch list.
He has already completed his degree in advertising/public relations. He could see his named called during the 2014 NFL draft, as CBSSports.com has him projected as a sixth- or seventh-round selection.
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