Since Joe Paterno became the Penn State head coach in 1966, a lot of future NFL players have suited up for the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State is arguably the best running back pipeline that the NFL has ever had. Despite the number of successful backs that have come out of the school, the lackluster careers of guys like Ki-Jana Carter often seem to overshadow the accomplishments of others in the minds of many.
Sure, Penn State has had a lot of running back busts in the NFL, but not many other universities can boast about as many successful running backs at the next level.
Aside from the offensive backs, Penn State has produced two Hall of Fame offensive guards, and will likely have a third elected in the future.
Several former Nittany Lion linebackers have also found success at the next level as well.
Let's start with the offense.
Quarterback : Kerry Collins
Collins has never been a top-tier quarterback during his NFL career and is far from a Hall of Famer, though he is nowhere near a bust.
He led the Carolina Panthers to the NFC title game in their second year of existence, the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV, and the Tennessee Titans to a 13-3 regular season record in 2008. Collins is also a two time Pro Bowler and passed for 3,000 yards in six consecutive seasons (2000-2005). Not too shabby.
Honorable Mentions : Milt Plum and Jeff Hostetler—transferred to West Virginia
Bust : Todd Blackledge
Running Backs : Lenny Moore and Franco Harris
Lenny Moore was the NFL's original dual threat running back and terrorized defenses during his 12 seasons with the Baltimore Colts. He scored 101 offensive touchdowns during his career, most of which came during 12 game seasons.
Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception helped jump start the Steel Curtain dynasty and bring four titles to Pittsburgh. Harris rushed for over 12,000 yards during his career and is the all-time leading rusher in Super Bowl history.
Honorable Mentions : Lydell Mitchell, Curt Warner, Larry Johnson, John Capelletti, Gary Brown, Dick Hoak, and Wallace Triplett
Busts : Blair Thomas, Curtis Enis, D.J. Dozier, and Ki-Jana Carter—he could have been a Hall of Famer had he not suffered those injuries in his rookie year
Fullback : Matt Suhey
Suhey played 10 years for the Chicago Bears and blocked for Walter Payton during his last seven seasons.
Honorable Mentions : Sam Gash and Richie Anderson
Wide Receivers : Bobby Engram and O.J. McDuffie
Bobby Engram, currently in his 14th NFL season, was not a number one receiver at any time, but has had a respectable career. He had more than 940 receiving yards in three of his seasons and helped the Seahawks reach Super Bowl XL.
Before injuries ended his career early, O.J. McDuffie was one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. He started out his career as role player, but quickly became a vital part of Jimmy Johnson's offense in Miami during the late 1990's. McDuffie led the league in receptions during the 1998 season.
Honorable Mentions : Michael Timpson, Bryant Johnson, and Joe Jerivicius
Tight End : Mickey Shuler
Shuler played 14 NFL seasons and was one the NFL's best tight ends in the 1980's, despite having a slow start to his career. He made the Pro Bowl in 1986 and 1988 while playing for the New York Jets.
Honorable Mentions : Tedd Kwalick, Kyle Brady, and Troy Dryaton
Offensive Tackles : Stew Barber and Keith Dorney
Stew Barber was a five time AFL All-Star for the Buffalo Bills and helped them capture AFL glory in 1964 and 1965. Technically, Barber never played in the NFL but I'll make an exception for him.
Keith Dorney played NFL seasons for the Detroit Lions and helped them reach the playoffs in 1982 and 1983.
Honorable Mention : Brad Benson, Levi Brown, Charlie Getty, Kareem McKenzie, Ron R. Heller, and Irv Pankey
Offensive Guards: Mike Munchak and Steve Wisniewski
Mike Michalske is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but its too difficult to bench either Mike Munchak or Steve Wisniewski.
Munchak was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001 and blocked for Warren Moon during those 4,000 + passing yard seasons for the Houston Oilers.
Wisniewski has not been elected to Hall of Fame yet, but was an eight time Pro Bowler during his 13 year career with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders. This position may be the strongest for this team, aside from running back.
Honorable Mentions : Mike Michalske, Dave Zsott, Sean Harrel, Glen Ressler, Duke Osborn, Roger Duffy, Todd Rucci, and Marco Rivera
Center : Jeff Hartings
Hartings never got the attention guys like Olin Kreutz and Tom Nalen did during his playing days, but he was still a great center. After spending his first five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Hartings returned to the Keystone State in 2001 as a member of Pittsburgh Steelers, helping them win three division crowns and a Super Bowl title.
Honorable Mentions : Tom Rafferty and Bill Lenkaitis
Defensive Tackles: Rosey Grier and Mike Reid
Rosey Grier played eight NFL seasons with the New York Giants and was an NFL champion in 1956. He joined the Los Angeles Rams in 1963 and formed the "Fearsome Foursome" with Lamar Lundy, Deacon Jones, and Merlin Olsen.
Mike Reid played in the NFL for just five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals due to hand and knee injuries, but made consecutive Pro Bowls in 1972-1973. After his football career, Reid became a Billboard chart-topping country singer.
Honorable Mentions : Chuck Janerette, Jimmy Kennedy, Tim Johnson, and Dave Rowe
Defensive Ends: Mike Hartenstine and Tamba Hali
Mike Hartenstine played for arguably the greatest defense in NFL history during his time with Chicago Bears in the 1980's. He recorded 13 sacks in 1983.
Tamba Hali is far from Julius Peppers, but has emerged as a great defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs in his first four NFL seasons. He had 15.5 sacks during his first two NFL seasons.
Honorable Mention : Bruce Clark
On the rise : Aaron Maybin
Bust : Courtney Brown
Outside Linebackers: Jack Ham and LaVar Arrington
Jack Ham was part of the Steel Curtain and formed the best linebacking trio in NFL history along side Andy Russel and Jack Lambert in Pittsburgh. He played 12 seasons with the Steelers and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988.
Although his career and caliber of play evaporated quickly, LaVar Arrington was a disruptive force for NFL offenses during the early 2000's. The number two pick in the 2000 draft made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2001-2003.
Honorable Mentions : Matt Millen, Chuck Drazenovich, Ralph Baker, Lance Mehl, Rich Melot, and Greg Buttle
Middle Linebacker : Shane Conlan
Conlan was a key component of the Bill's defense during their run to four Super Bowl appearances in a row. He was the 1987 NFL Defensive Rookie of The Year, as well as an All-Pro, and instantly cemented himself as one of the league's best linebackers.
On the rise : Paul Posluszny and Dan Conner
Cornerbacks: Paul Lankford and David Macklin
The secondary, overall, is pretty weak and lacking depth for this team.
Lankford played 10 NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins and helped them reach the Super Bowl twice during the 1980's.
Macklin played in the NFL for nine seasons and was a member of the Colts AFC South division winning teams in 2002 and 2003.
Free Safety : Darren Perry
Perry was an 8th-round draft choice in 1992 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but still led the NFL in interceptions as a rookie. He formed a deadly safety duo with Rod Woodson and had 35 interceptions over his career.
Strong Safety : Kim Herring
Like Perry, Herring was also paired with Rod Woodson during his career. He was a starter for the record-setting Ravens defense in 2000 when they won the Super Bowl.
Honorable Mention : Mike Zordich
Kicker : Matt Bahr
The former North American Soccer League player was the kicker during the Giants 1990 Super Bowl winning season. He is best remembered for kicking five field goals during an NFC Championship game against the 49ers.
Honorable Mentions : Chris Bahr and Robbie Gould
Punter : Gregg Montgomery
Montgomery was the punter for the Oilers during their playoff teams of the late 1980's and early 1990's. He also led the NFL in average yards per punt for three seasons.
Returner : Eddie Drummond
Drummond's career was brief, but he was a deadly returner for the Detroit Lions from 2000 to 2004—one of the lone bright spots for the team during that time.
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