Conlan Joins PSU's Hall Haul

The Nittany Lions' two-time All-American linebacker finally earns a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. He played in two national champion games, won one title, and was a member of the squad that captured the crown in 1982.

Former Penn State linebacker Shane Conlan has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame -- finally.

A two-time All-American, Conlan was a star on the great Nittany Lion teams that lost only one game from 1985-86. He wrapped up his career by leading Penn State to a stunning upset of No. 1 Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, a victory that gave the Lions their second national championship.

Conlan is arguably the greatest Penn State football player ever. He was a member of the 1982 national championship team (though he redshirted that year), and later in his career led the Nittany Lions on their tremendous runs in 1985 and ’86.

The only loss in that span was to Oklahoma in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl for the national championship, and by most accounts Conlan was the best player on the field that night. He had six solo tackles, three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery, and was named Defensive Player of the Game in a losing effort.

The following year against Miami, he was awesome on a huge stage again, this time in victory. In his final college game, Conlan had eight tackles and two interceptions, and was named Most Valuable Defensive Player.

Conlan is the 23rd person with Penn State ties elected to the Hall, and the 18th former Nittany Lion player.

"It's a great honor to join all the former Penn State players and all the great players in the College Football Hall of Fame. It's very humbling."

“It’s a great honor to join all the former Penn State players and all the great players in the College Football Hall of Fame,” he said. “It’s very humbling.”

Conlan finished his career with 274 tackles, which tied him for second on PSU’s all-time list at the time. He still ranks No. 7 on that list. His 186 career solo stops were a school standard that stood for two decades.

He thanked his head coach at PSU, the late Joe Paterno, for giving him a chance. The Lions were the only program at any level to offer Conlan a football scholarship.

“He was a wonderful man,” Conlan said of Paterno. “I owe him everything. He took a chance on me. He knew most of us wouldn’t play in the NFL, so he taught us everything we would need to know in life. He was a father figure to all of us.”

Longtime PSU assistant Tom Bradley discovered Conlan in the Buffalo suburb of Frewsburg, N.Y., and talked Paterno into recruiting the then-skinny linebacker. The Nittany Lion coaching staff was sold on Conlan after seeing how athletic he was while playing in a high school basketball game.

Conlan went on to play nearly a decade in the NFL, first with his hometown Buffalo Bills (1987-92) and later with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1993-95). He finished his pro career with 751 tackles.

Conlan currently serves as vice president of corporate partnerships for the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League. He and his wife, Caroline, have four children and live in Sewickley, Pa.

“The Penn State football family is ecstatic that Shane Conlan has been selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame,” current Nittany Lion coach James Franklin said. “Shane is one of the primary reasons why so many people know about the unrivaled tradition of ‘Linebacke U.’ Shane was a fierce, tough competitor and leader, and we are excited that he is being appropriately recognized for his outstanding career with his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.”

Fight On State Top Stories