Posluszny extending Linebacker U. legacy

first_imgPenn State is called Linebacker U for a reason; there is no doubt about that.The list of standout linebackers could probably take up the amount of space allotted for this article. Some of them include Shane Conlan, Lavar Arrington and Jack Ham, just to name a few, and current junior Paul Posluszny is well on his way to adding his name to the long list.Posluszny has made a name for himself, not only as far as statistics –where he rivals those linebackers that came before him — but also as a team leader, both on and off the field.”He came in as a good football player,” Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said in a press conference before the Lions’ bout with Michigan. “When we recruited Paul, we thought we were getting ourselves a really good football player and it turned out that way.”On the field, the junior is making Nittany Lion fans do a double-take to make sure they’re aren’t watching Conlan on the field.Conlan, best known for his two interceptions in the 1986 National Championship game, was a two-time All-American for the Nittany Lions in 1985 and ’86. He remains the programs all-time leader in career solo tackles with 186 in his four-year career.Now, Posluszny is emulating the former PSU linebacker.”He is certainly one of the better linebackers we have ever had,” Paterno said. “He is so close to Shane Conlan. They play so similar a game. They are alert, play pass well, play run well and hustle all the time. He is just a heck of a football player.”Those are mighty words from a coach who has seen more than 50 years of Nittany Lion football. In fact, Paterno thinks Posluszny is perhaps the best linebacker in the country.”I haven’t seen all of them, but it would be tough for me to think there is a better one,” Paterno said.The numbers speak for themselves. After posting 36 tackles in just eight games his true freshman season, Posluszny tallied 104 tackles, half of them solo tackles, in his sophomore season a year ago. He hasn’t let up this season, as he has a chance to surpass his tackling numbers from last year in this Saturday’s game. In fact, he’s already bested his 52 solo tackles in 2004 with 53 in the current campaign. He leads the team and ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 94 tackles in nine games thus far. Through his successes, the standout linebacker remains humble.”I was very honored [when Paterno compared me to Conlan],” Posluszny said. “I don’t necessarily think I deserve that kind of recognition. He did great things for Penn State and our program.”But the junior, if he hasn’t already, is well on his way to placing his name amongst the greats of Penn State. Now Paterno just has to try to make sure he doesn’t lose Posluszny to the NFL.”I think Paul should stay,” Paterno said when asked about the subject Tuesday. “I think that is something that he would have to have some reasons and so forth. That is the first time I have heard that might be a possibility so I really haven’t given it much thought.” Paterno will keep his fingers crossed that he doesn’t have to think about too much when the season concludes.While he may be too modest to admit it, Posluszny has cemented himself as the next best linebacker at Linebacker U, and is the foundation of the Big Ten’s top defense.Looking forward to Wisconsin, CalhounSome players might be a little nervous when going up against Badger running back and workhorse Brian Calhoun. After all, he is second in the Big Ten in rushing and has scored 21 touchdowns this season.Even Paterno is a bit nervous.”Calhoun is one of the best backs we have played against in a long time,” Paterno said. “If he runs for 150 or 160 yards, it will be a long day.”But a player like Posulszny thrives on games like these.As a quick, yet powerful, linebacker, the junior is even looking forward to facing a run-oriented team and Calhoun, especially after facing all of the spread offenses this season in conference play.”It’s going to be real exciting for us,” Posluszny said. “The past couple games we haven’t really had the chance to get a lot of work. With this game, we know they’re going to try and be physical and run the ball, and that’s good because that’s where linebackers get to come in and play and make big things happen.”He has shown his ability all season to make things happen, and should break the century mark in tackles Saturday.Add to that the fact that Posluszny — a team captain as a junior, the first junior captain in nearly 40 years at PSU — will be looking to send the seniors off in the right way in their last game in Happy Valley. “It is going to be real emotional. A lot of our guys are seniors,” Posluszny said. “I think it’s going to turn out to be a good thing for us. I think the guys are going to be really fired up and ready to play.”Both Wisconsin and Penn State control their own destiny, and Posluszny is one of those players who can take those kinds of games into his own hands.last_img

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