Pennsylvania State University, located in “Happy Valley” (a nickname for the State College area), has been around since its founding in 1855. The school’s football program got its start in the 1880s. While early teams were scarce (reports say the school didn’t even have a team from 1882 to 1886) and they competed independently of a conference until the early 1990s, Penn State certainly has had a ton of success on the field.
To date, the Penn State Nittany Lions have brought home four conference championships and 47 bowl appearances (with 28 wins) and enjoy a loyal fan base, which are all highlights of this storied football program.
Penn State has produced plenty of NFL talent, including John Cappelletti, who is the sole Nittany Lion to receive a Heisman Trophy. The running back was drafted No. 11 overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1974 and spent nine seasons in the NFL, first as a Ram and later as a part of the Chargers. Other Nittany Lions who have spent time in the NFL include LaVar Arrington, Mike Reid, and Kerry Collins.
There are currently 30 former Penn State players who play in the NFL. Let’s take a look to see where these Nittany Lions are making impacts on the field.
Made in Happy Valley
The Miami Dolphins are home to three former Penn State Players: Cameron Wake and Mike Hull, with Jordan Lucas residing on the practice squad. Several teams have two former Penn Staters, like the San Francisco 49ers with Robbie Gould and Garry Gilliam. On the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you’ll find Donovan Smith and Chris Godwin, while on the Tennessee Titans, you’ll find DaQuan Jones and Austin Johnson. The Kansas City Chiefs have two former Nittany Lions on their team: Ross Travis and Tamba Hali, who is currently on injured reserve. It’s the same story for the Jacksonville Jaguars – Paul Posluszny plays for the team, and Allen Robinson is on injured reserve.
Sean Lee, a linebacker and tackling machine for the Dallas Cowboys, is one standout player who formerly played at Penn State. Lee has been selected to two Pro Bowls and one first-team All-Pro. This well-liked defensive phenom is one of his team’s captains and leads them in tackles (no surprise there).
Cameron Wake is another outstanding linebacker who hails from Penn State. His tackling and sacking prowess for the Miami Dolphins has earned him five Pro Bowl invitations, and although he’s getting “up there” in years (he’ll be 36 in January), he’s still a solid wrecking ball for the Miami defense.
Paul Posluszny is yet another fantastic linebacker to hail from Penn State. Posluszny, who now tackles the heck out of guys for the Jacksonville Jaguars, has netted over 100 tackles in four out of 11 seasons so far and has been selected to one Pro Bowl.
Let It Roar
Hey, if you’re a Nittany Lion at heart and have been following your faves from their college playing days all the way to the NFL, there’s no better place for you than Fanatics for authentic Penn State and NFL gear.