With 76 first-team All-Americans and hundreds of future pros, Joe Paterno
turns out the talent.
Here, then, is a Penn State all-star team during Paterno's tenure as head coach, based on player accomplishments in college and, in the case of a close call, how well the player fared in the pros.
The all-time JoePa offense is explosive, and the Paterno defensive line and linebackers might be as good as any collegiate football factory can claim.
Linebacker, as you might have known, is a strong point, as Paterno has guided 13 linebackers to 18 first-team All-American seasons since becoming head coach in 1966. That depth at linebacker also is why we're using an old-school 4-4-3 defense.
The all-time JoePa team:
, Chuck Fusina, Todd Blackledge and John Hufnagel rise to the top. Collins is the pick because he had a much better TD-to-interception ratio than the others and because in 1994 he directed one of the most dominant college offenses in history. That year -- against Big Ten competition -- was the greatest single season for a Lion quarterback, including the seminal moment: the long game-winning TD drive led by Collins in the final minutes to beat Illinois on the road. Tried hard to pick Fusina, who was a winner and a heckuva leader during the late 1970s golden era but had too many career interceptions. And don't forget Tony Sacca, who started four years and had a spectacular 1991.
No Lion was slicker than Curt Warner, a cutback virtuoso with great numbers who scored two touchdowns in the January 1983 Sugar Bowl when Penn State won its first national title. He gets the nod. Also partial to tackle-busting Blair Thomas, while Lydell Mitchell, Ki-Jana Carter and Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti deserve mention, too. And, of course, Larry Johnson
in 2002 had the greatest single season for a Lion running back.
Lions had some good ones, and Franco Harris
, a great runner in the pros, takes the honor. Aaron Harris (no relation to Franco) was the best runner at fullback since Franco, but an injury derailed Aaron's career.
and Bobby Engram
are the best. The smooth Jackson was a two-time All-American. Engram was a first-, second- and third-team All-American, and he also won the Fred Biletnikoff
Award as the nation's top wideout. O.J. McDuffie
, Jack Curry, all-time receptions leader Deon Butler and multi-threat Derrick Williams
deserve mention. If you had to credit just one person for returning a dormant program to glory this decade, it would be Williams.
Ted Kwalick was a two-time All-American, leading all Lion receivers in catches his senior year. Mickey Shuler Sr., who had an excellent pro career, is a close second. Dan Natale and Kyle Brady
also deserve mention.
(Emmaus High School), a two-time All-American, gets one berth. In a tie at the other tackle, we'll put Dave Joyner and Chris Conlin, both one-time All-Americans.