Michael Mauti v Eric Cole
Michael Mauti, Linebacker, 2008-2012
Michael Mauti came to Penn State as a legacy linebacker from Louisiana; he is leaving Penn State as nothing less than a legend. His brother, Patrick (WR 05-09) was already on the squad, and their father, Rich, lettered for the Lions in 1975 & 76. When he looks back on his PSU career, I hope that he is able to focus on the sheer brilliance of his play, character and influence - He has faced more than his share of adversity with injuries and major off-the-field distractions and come through it all as a leader for his teammates, fellow students, and Penn Staters as a whole.
Eric Cole, Offensive Line (1996-1999)
Someone, unfortunately has to go up against the Roger Federers, LA Lakers and Secretariats of history, and so is the case for Eric Cole. As an offensive lineman for PSU, Cole played at various positions on the line, starting as center (JR) and Guard (SR). He can be spotted commenting on the occasional blog post and continues to be a great Penn Stater.
John Urschel v Zack Mills
John Urschel, G (2009-2012)
John Urschel is possibly the smartest person to don the blue and white - having completed his undergraduate degree in mathematics, in just 3 years, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. On the field, he has been a major contributor to an O-line that has, for the last 2 seasons, improved in both run blocking, as well as being a pivotal to the development of PSU pass game.
Zack Mills, Quarterback (2001 - 2004)
Zack Mills enjoyed only one winning season (shut up) during his career, but boy were there some exciting games. Regardless of asterisks and italics, Mills led the Lions in some of the teams most memorable games, included the 40 - 7 trouncing of Nebraska and the amazing comeback win against Ohio State that secured Coach Joe Paterno’s 324th career win. Despite being plagued by injuries, Mills amassed numerous PSU passing records.
Jordan Norwood v Tony Pittman
Jordan Norwood, WR (2005 - 2008)
Jordan Norwood was/is one of the “babies” the fleet of freshmen who took the field for PSU in 2005. Their contribution to the team, and the program, was key Penn State’s success going forward. Norwood was quietly a cornerstone of the offense. He ability to get open and complete plays sustained many a drive.
Tony Pittman, CB (1990 - 1994)
Pittman is another player in the grand tradition of legacy players at Penn State. His father, Charlie, was an All-American running back on the undefeated PSU teams of 1968 & 1969. Tony played cornerback for the Lions, and helped lead the defense during a time when, uncharacteristically, PSU was known more for its offense. Pittman led the team in interceptions in 1993 and was a key contributor to the 1994 undefeated team. Tony was also a star in the classroom, earning Academic All American honors. A businessman, writer and Tweeter (@tonypittman), he is a testament to the Penn State Way.
Graham Zug v Navarro Bowman
OMZ Graham Zug, Wide Receiver (2006 - 2010)
Graham Zug joined the Lions as walk-on receiver, winning a scholarship just before his JR/SO season. Following in the shadow of the record setting receivers of the mid-aughts, Zug evolved into one of the most productive receivers in team history.
Navarro Bowman, Linebacker (2006 - 2009)
After a slightly shaky (or punchy-punch) start to his PSU career, Bowman settled into being one of the most productive and feared players on the PSU defense. He and has extended his talents to becoming one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL. Currently playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Bowman voted first team All-Pro in just his 2nd season.
Derrick Williams v Leo Wisniewski
Derrick Williams, Athlete, Wider Receiver, Special Teams (2005-2008) Derrick Williams (and his infectious half-smile) became part of the Penn State family as one of the first Lions to ever announce his college selection during a nationally-broadcast press conference. Williams had narrowed his choices, and Penn State, coming off losing seasons 4 of the past 5 years seemed like a long shot. But, when Williams made his choice “The University of... Penn State” (dragging out the drama, just a little bit longer), he re-ignited the hope of success that had been fading. He, along with his fellow classmates, and the returning players, led PSU to a near perfect season in 2005 (despite breaking his arm during the one loss to um). His defining play, for me, will always be the touchdown pass against Northwestern, when I yelled “he thinks he’s Kenny Jackson!”
Leo Winsiewski, DL (1979 - 1981)
Leo is the brother of Steve and the father of Stefen. A successful defensive lineman for the Lions, he extended his career into the NFL. Leo has also been a unique voice for fans and former players, most recently posting an article, summing up the 2012 season and what those who left may have missed. It was because of this reflection that Leo made our list.
Matt Rice v. Harry Wilson
Matthew Rice, DE (2003 - 2005)
Matt Rice was a standout on the Penn State line, and the team artist as well, having painted the 2005 PSU football poster. After Penn State, Rice spent time in the NFL and NFL Europe before, in 2007, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgery successfully removed the benign tumor, and it has, quite wonderfully, enhanced and fused his two favorite things, art & sport. He has gone on to open his own art company, Mateo Blu, and has created many fantastic Penn State themed works of art. You can check out some of his work by following him on Twitter (@mateoblu).
Harry Wilson, Halfback (1921 - 1923) Wilson actually ended his football career as a cadet at Army, but that wasn’t before he was named an All-American and was a prolific scorer for the Nittany Lions. After football, Wilson entered the Army as a commissioned officer, where he earned numerous honors throughout his service in the Army Air Corps. WIlson was posthumously recognized for his college football accomplishments in 1973 when he as elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Kerry Collins, Quarterback, (1991 - 1994)
How does one sum up Kerry Collins and what he meant/means to Penn State? He has been one of the most notorious and written about Lions since even before he stepped onto campus. His early career was met with some set backs (you know, silly “volleyball”) and fans clamoring for him to get into the game; once planted into the offense, they were not disappointed, as he led one of the most productive and dazzling teams in PSU history. The 1994 team sailed, stunned and scrapped to score Paterno his 5th undefeated season as head coach (and 4th uncrowned); Collins was great, no doubt, pummeling many a proud program (and yes, by that I mean, tosu), but imo, his most impressive win was against MSU, when he & the team proved their substance, overcoming a substantial deficit as well as their own errors.
Mike Michalske, Fullback, Class of 1926
Mike Michalske is one of the 5 Penn Staters in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. An All-American back at PSU, Michalske switched to Guard in the pros. He was named first team All-Pro 6 seasons.
Bill O’Brien v Blair Thomas
Bill O’Brien, Head Coach, 2012 - Current
Bill O’Brien or O’bie (is preferred nickname), was named Penn State head coach in January, 2012. Less than a year later he had already skippered the team through one of the most emotional, scrutinized and successful seasons in the school’s, and perhaps the sport’s, history. O’brien came to PSU via the New England Patriots, where he served as Offensive Coordinator. His future as a Penn State football coach is yet to be written, but he is certainly off to an interesting start.
Blair Thomas, RB, (1986 - 1989)
Before anyone ever heard of the “Lavar Leap” their was another Lion that was familiar with “the air up there.” Blair Thomas’ ability to dive over the line, with both height and distance, prompted the creation of the term “Blairborn.” A member of the 1986 Championship team, the freshman Thomas, as a back-up for PSU great, DJ Dozier, entertained PSU fans with his zigs & zags (and sheer speed), prompting some to opine that perhaps the Lions’ moniker should be changed to “Running Back U.” Thomas’ dominance continued throughout his career, earning the All-American honor in 1989, on his way to a career total 3,301 yards.