Penn State Nittany Lions in the NFL

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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

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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).

Sean Lee #DALvsSF

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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.

LET’S GO!!

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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.

Our 2017 team captains.

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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.

Sources

Top College Football Stadiums of 2011

College football is quickly approaching. No matter what team you root for on gameday, we recommend visiting these Top College Football Stadiums for the 2011 NCAA season! The following list takes into account scenic views, current stadium capacity, past lists of top stadiums, unique facts about each, and overall game-day atmosphere.

#20 Falcon Stadium, US Air Force Academy

Falcon Stadium

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Capacity: 46,692

Unique Facts

  • Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains is the gameday backdrop
  • The mascot is a peregrine falcon named “Mach 1,” which means the speed of sound – the peregrine can fly at a speed of 200 miles per hour and dives over the heads of Air Force fans
  • 2nd highest elevation in Division I-A football – over 6,620 feet above sea level

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#19 Folsom Field, University of Colorado

Folsom Field

Location: Boulder, Colorado

Capacity: 53,613

Unique Facts

  • Another high elevation – 3rd highest elevation in NCAA football – 5,360 feet above sea level
  • Flatiron mountain range is the background setting
  • A massive recycling effort in 2008 made it the first “zero-waste” stadium in the NCAA

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#18 LaVell Edwards Stadium, Brigham Young University

LaVell Edwards Stadium

Location: Provo, Utah

Capacity: 63,725

Unique Facts

  • Mt. Timpanogos and Wasatch Mountain Range are the background views
  • Part of the largest collection of North American fossils were stored under the bleachers until 2005 – now displayed in the university’s museum
  • Previously known as Cougar Stadium, head coach LaVell Edwards retired in 2000 when the stadium was renamed

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#17 Ohio Stadium, Ohio State University

Ohio Stadium

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Capacity: 102,329

Unique Facts

  • 4th largest football stadium in the US
  • No field lights are installed. Special lighting is used during night games
  • The stadium is a concert venue to some of the biggest names in music like U2 and The Rolling Stones

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#16 Husky Stadium, University of Washington

Husky Stadium

Location: Seattle, Washington

Capacity: 72,500

Unique Facts

  • Open side of the stadium looks out on Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains
  • 70% of the seats are covered by metal roofs between the end zones
  • Noise level has measured 135 decibels…loudest recorded ever

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#15 Frank Howard Field at Memorial Stadium “Death Valley”, Clemson University

Frank Howard Field at Memorial Stadium

Location: Clemson, South Carolina

Capacity: 80,301

Unique Facts

  • 2nd largest stadium in the ACC
  • Hosted concerts to popular music artists like Pink Floyd and Rage Against the Machine
  • “Howard’s Rock” is a rock given to Frank Howard by a friend claiming to originally be from Death Valley, California. The rock was eventually placed in an encasement and the Clemson Army ROTC protects the rock 24 hours prior to the Clemson/SC game every year

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#14 Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn University

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Capacity: 87,451

Unique Facts

  • Stadium is named for the winningest coach in Auburn football, Ralph “Shug” Jordan, and Cliff Hare a member of the 1st football team and president of the Southern Conference
  • 1st SEC school to install an HD video display and 2nd in the NCAA
  • Known for great gameday atmospheres and one of the more intimidating places for any opponent

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#13 Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State University

Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium

Location: Tallahassee, Florida

Capacity: 82,300

Unique Facts

  • Largest continuous structure made of brick in the US
  • Field named for head coach Bobby Bowden and stadium named for former president at time of construction
  • Bronze sculpture resembling Chief Osceola and Renegade, FSU’s mascots, stands 19′ tall outside stadium. At sunset before home games, the Marching Chiefs play as Osceola’s spear is lit on fire

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#12 Camp Randall Stadium, University of Wisconsin

Camp Randall Stadium

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Capacity: 80,321

Unique Facts

  • Oldest college football stadium – first formed in 1895 and completed in 1917
  • 5th largest stadium in the Big Ten Conference
  • Built on the Camp Randall grounds, former training camp of the Union Army during the Civil War

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#11 Tiger Stadium, Louisiana State University

Tiger Stadium, LSU

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Capacity: 92,542

Unique Facts

  • Home of the most intimidating mascot in college football, Mike The Tiger (a real tiger)
  • One of the worst places for visiting teams because of the loudest atmosphere in stadium history
  • New 27×80 HD Video Board

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#10 Michigan Stadium “The Big House”, University of Michigan

The Big House

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Capacity: 109,901

Unique Facts

  • Largest stadium in the US and 3rd largest in the world
  • First night football game in Michigan Stadium history will occur Sept 10, 2011, against Notre Dame
  • Size of gameday crowds almost matches Ann Arbor’s population

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#9 Beaver Stadium, Penn State University

Beaver Stadium, Penn State

Location: University Park, Pennsylvania

Capacity: 107,282

Unique Facts

  • 2nd largest stadium in the US and 4th largest in the world
  • The WhiteOut occurs when students wear all white during night games and the same for the WhiteHouse during day games
  • First stadium to be included in Google Street View

Shop Penn State Nittany Lions Gear


#8 Sanford Stadium, University of Georgia

Sanford Stadium

Location: Athens, Georgia

Capacity: 92,746

Unique Facts

  • Privet hedges surround the field for not only cosmetic reasons, but also crowd control – originally planted in 1929, removed and restored in 1996
  • One of the best mascots, Uga, descends from the original white bulldog and has an air-conditioned doghouse with bags of ice inside
  • Field has only been rushed one time in history in 2000 when the Bulldogs beat their rival, the Tennessee Vols, for the first time since 1988 – the goal posts were also torn down

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#7 Kyle Field, Texas A&M University

Kyle Field

Location: College Station, Texas

Capacity: 83,002

Unique Facts

  • Kyle Field press box has won many honors with accomodations for hundreds of press members
  • The entire press box sways during the Aggie War Hymn
  • The Zone contains a sports museum, multiple seating levels, and a graveyard right outside for the Aggie mascot

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#6 Autzen Stadium, University of Oregon

Autzen Stadium, Oregon

Location: Eugene, Oregon

Capacity: 54,000

Unique Facts

  • One of the loudest stadiums in college football with steep stands, seats close to the field, and a roof that overhangs
  • Located near Willamette River and next to Alton Baker Park
  • 74 consecutive sellouts dating back to 1999

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#5 Memorial Stadium, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Memorial Stadium

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Capacity: 81,067

Unique Facts

  • Continuous NCAA record of consecutive sellouts…now at 311
  • ‘Huskers fans are some of the most loyal in college football and the stands are always filled with a “Sea of Red”
  • The stadium name honors Nebraska natives who served during the Civil and Spanish-American Wars, as well as 751 who died in World War I

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#4 Bryant-Denny Stadium, University of Alabama

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Capacity: 101,821

Unique Facts

  • Originally named Denny Stadium after George Denny, former president – changed in 1975 to honor famous past head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • 2nd largest stadium in the SEC and 5th largest in the US
  • In 2010, South End Zone expanded and the new seats sold out quickly prior to the 2010 season

Shop Alabama Crimson Tide Gear


#3 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium “The Swamp”, University of Florida

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Location: Gainesville, Florida

Capacity: 88,548

Unique Facts

  • Can we say Home Field Advantage? The Swamp is below ground level with enclosed playing areas on every side, which makes humid climate temperatures exceed 100 degrees and screaming fans even louder
  • Large bronze statues of the three Heisman Trophy winners placed outside the stadium in April 2011: Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow
  • The Gator Chomp symbolizes an alligator’s mouth and fans use this as a gesture to support the team, occuring when the Pride of the Sunshine plays a two-note music sequence from the film Jaws

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#2 Notre Dame Stadium, University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium

Location: Notre Dame, Indiana

Capacity: 80,795

Unique Facts

  • Known as “The House That Rockne Built”, Knute Rockne was a coach who popularized the forward pass and helped the stadium’s construction project get off the ground
  • The playing surface has always consisted of natural grass
  • “Rudy”, a biographical film about Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who dreamed of playing Notre Dame football, was the first movie shot on campus since “Knute Rockne, All American”
  • First night game since 1991 will be held on October 22, 2011, against USC

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#1 Neyland Stadium, University of Tennessee

Neyland Stadium

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Capacity: 102,455

Unique Facts

  • General Robert Neyland made the Vols a football powerhouse from 1926-1952
  • One of 70 stadiums in the US bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup
  • The largest SEC stadium, 3rd largest in the US and 6th largest in the world
  • Unique endzone paint with an orange and white checkerboard
  • Located on the Tennessee River, The Volunteer Navy tailgates (or sailgates) outside of Neyland each gameday
  • “Rocky Top” is one of the most well-known, repetitively played songs during any college football game

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