Nittany Lions in the NFL: LBs and punters
August, 23, 2012
By Josh Moyer | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Gus RuelasSean Lee has taken long to become one of the most exciting linebackers in the NFL, as he has been a impact player for the Dallas Cowboys.NittanyNation takes a look at every Penn State player currently playing in the NFL -- where they are, what their role is and what their careers have looked like.
NittanyNation will look at linebackers and punters this morning and defensive linemen and defensive backs this afternoon.
Navorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco 49ers
PSU career: All-Big Ten in 2008 and two-time conference player of the week. Led the team in tackles as a sophomore with 106 (16.5 tackles for loss) and finished second in tackles the next season with 93, along with a team-high 17 TFL. Bowman left school after his junior season.
NFL career: Drafted in the third round in 2010. Played in every game as a rookie and started every game last season. He finished with 143 tackles last year, 111 of which were solo tackles. Named to the Associated Press' first-team All-Pro.
Dan Connor, LB, Dallas Cowboys
PSU career: Two-time First-Team All-America selection (2006, 2007) and the recipient of the Chuck Bednarik Award (2007). Penn State's No. 1 leader in career tackles (419), surpassing the No. 2 (Paul Posluszny) by 47.
NFL career: Drafted in third round in 2008. After an ACL tear during his rookie campaign, Connor bounced back and contributed to the Panthers by playing in 37 games over the next three seasons. He started 11 games last year and finished with 75 tackles and a forced fumble. Dallas signed him as a free agent in March.
Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys
PSU career: A quiet, blue-collar linebacker who finished fourth in career tackles at Penn State with 325. He was the 2007 Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP and finished No. 8 on the Big Ten Network's "Best Linebackers 2000-2010."
NFL career: Drafted in second round in 2010 and played in all but three games since his career began. Started in 15 games last year and recorded 105 tackles and four interceptions. He was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month last September.
Paul Posluszny, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
John Raoux/AP PhotoPaul Posluszny has been a premier linebacker since entering the NFL in 2007.
PSU career: One of the best linebackers to ever play for Linebacker U. He won the Bednarik Award twice and the Dick Butkus Award once. He was a two-time All-American, a three-time All-Big Ten player and was named, by the Big Ten Network, to be the best conference linebacker from 2000-2010.
NFL career: Drafted in second round in 2007. Started as a rookie but suffered a broken left forearm in Week 3. Bounced back, was named the Buffalo Bills’ defensive MVP the next season and team captain in 2009. He has not yet played a game without starting it. Jacksonville signed him to a six-year, $42 million deal last July and he started every game for the Jaguars. He finished with 119 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions.
Tamba Hali, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
PSU career: 2005 All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2005. Hali had 11 sacks and 17 TFL as a senior.
NFL career: Drafted in first round in 2006. Two-time Pro Bowler, led the AFC in sacks (14.5) in 2010. He has started in all but one game since his rookie season and has a career total of 53.5 sacks. He is suspended for the opener for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Josh Hull, LB, St. Louis Rams
Role: Backup to former Ohio State MLB James Laurinaitis
PSU career: A former walk-on who shined when Lee went down in 2008 with an injury. Hull was a two-year starter who was an Academic All-American. He finished second, behind Bowman, in tackles his senior season with 75.
NFL career: Drafted in seventh round in 2010 and played in 11 games last season, mostly on special teams. Played in one game his rookie season and forced a fumble. Hull had five tackles in the second game of the preseason.
Aaron Maybin, LB, New York Jets
Role: Backup; situational player
PSU career: Made the Sporting News' Freshman All-Big Ten team with four sacks. One season later, he registered 12 sacks and 20 TFL as a DE. He was consensus All-American who was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks and Chuck Bednarik awards and left after his redshirt sophomore season.
NFL career: Drafted in first round in 2009. Appeared to be one of the biggest defensive busts of the draft but turned things around when the Jets signed him. He had six sacks and four forced fumbles last season, playing in 13 games and starting none.
Bryan Scott, LB, Buffalo Bills
PSU career: Three-year starter at Penn State as a safety. Played in 48 games and finished with 202 tackles and five interceptions.
NFL career: Drafted in second round in 2003. Went from Falcons to Saints to Titans to Bills. Buffalo moved him from DB to LB, and he's done well there. He played in 31 of 32 games the last two seasons and recorded 105 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions.
Tim Shaw, LB, Tennessee Titans
PSU career: Shaw made a sacrifice his senior season by agreeing to play as a defensive end/linebacker hybrid. He earned a handful of team honors during his career -- Frank Patrick Award, Jim O'Hora Award -- and tied Connor in tackles his junior season as a linebacker. Shaw had 76 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2005 to Connor's 65 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
NFL career: Drafted in fifth round in 2007. He has played for the Panthers, Jaguars, Bears and Titans. Has played in 47 of the last 48 regular season games; recorded 83 career tackles and two forced fumbles. Shaw has only started one game in his career.
Nate Stupar, LB, Oakland Raiders
PSU career: Played in every single game over four seasons, though mostly on special teams as an underclassman. He stepped up as a junior and finished third on tackles with 73. As a senior, he had 80 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions.
NFL career: Drafted in seventh round this year. He had four tackles in a 31-27 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 of the preseason.
Jeremy Kapinos, P, Pittsburgh Steelers
Role: Injured starter; nursing a back injury that hurt his standing with Pittsburgh
PSU career: All-time leader in punting yardage and a Ray Guy Award finalist as a senior; Third-Team All-American. He had one of the most memorable quotes: "Chicks dig the long ball."
NFL career: Went undrafted in 2007. He has played for the Jets, Packers, Colts and Steelers. Played eight games last year and averaged 45 yards a punt. Has 140 career punts, a 43.2 average and a 35.4 net.
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12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
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12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State