Taking Home the Hardware

Penn State captured two of the of the biggest awards at Thursday night's Home Depot College Football Awards Show, with Joe Paterno earning the Home Depot Coach of the Year and linebacker Paul Posluszny winning the Bednarik Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player.

In addition to the pair of awards, Posluszny and senior defensive end Tamba Hali were introduced as members of the Walter Camp All-America team.

In his 40th season as head coach, Joe Paterno has led the Nittany Lions to a 10-1 record, a share of the Big Ten Championship and the conference's automatic berth into the Bowl Championship Series. Penn State will clash with ACC Champion Florida State in the 72nd FedEx Orange Bowl on January 3, 2006 in Dolphins Stadium. Penn State is No. 3 in the BCS rankings, as well as the AP, USA Today/Coaches and Harris Interactive polls.

The winner of an unprecedented four AFCA National Coach of the Year awards, Paterno is the first coach in any NCAA classification to be selected AFCA Region Coach of the Year 11 times. Larry Kehres of Division III Mount Union has won the regional honor 10 times.

Paterno is second in all-time victories among major college coaches and fourth in wins across all four NCAA divisions. A member of the Penn State coaching staff for 56 years, he owns a 353-117-3 (74.9) career record, posting his 350th career win at Illinois on Oct. 22. Paterno has led Penn State to national championships in 1982 and '86, five unbeaten and untied seasons (1968, '69, '73, '86, '94) and is the all-time leader in bowl appearances (31) and victories (20-10-1 record).

Paterno also has produced more than 300 NFL players, 71 first team All-Americans, 32 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans (24 first team), 15 National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar Athletes and18 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners during his illustrious career.

Paterno and his wife, Sue, have contributed more than $4 million to Penn State for several academic and athletic building projects and to endow scholarships and faculty positions.

In 2004, Paterno was selected the second-best college football coach of all-time in the "Dell Presents College Football's 10 Greatest Coaches" survey. He also was named the nation's best college football coach of the past 25 years by an ESPN25 expert panel. He finished No. 8 overall in the listing of college and professional coaches from all sports over the past 25 years.

A junior from Aliquippa, Pa., Paul Posluszny joins linebacker LaVar Arrington as Nittany Lions to win the Bednarik Award, which is sponsored by the Maxwell Football Club. The award was first presented in 1994 in honor of former Philadelphia Eagles standout Chuck Bednarik.

"I'm really honored and surprised to win the Bednarik Award," Posluszny said from Orlando. "There were two other great players who were just as deserving. It's a great honor and I couldn't have won this prestigious award without all the other great players I play with."

Earlier today, Posluszny became the 76th Penn State football student-athlete to earn first team All-America recognition, a total of 88 times, dating back to W.T. (Mother) Dunn's selection to the Walter Camp All-America squad in 1906. The Nittany Lions have had 71 first team All-America selections under Joe Paterno, with at least one All-American in 35 of his 40 years as head coach.

Posluszny is the 12th linebacker to earn first team All-America honors at "Linebacker U" under Coach Joe Paterno. He joins a group of former Penn State linebackers that includes: Dennis Onkotz, Jack Ham, Greg Buttle, Shane Conlan, LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short as first team All-Americans.

Also a finalist for the Butkus and Rotary Lombardi Awards, Posluszny is the seventh Nittany Lion to earn first team All-America and Academic All-America honors. Guard Jeff Hartings, a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the last in 1995. Posluszny is one of the squad's top students with a 3.67 grade point average in finance. He has made the Dean's List in each of his initial four of his semesters and is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

Posluszny has been instrumental in the Nittany Lions' Big Ten Championship season. He is fourth in the Big Ten with 111 tackles (60 solo). He trails only Hali with 11 tackles for losses (minus-38), has three sacks and two pass break-ups.

The first team All-Big Ten selection is only the fourth Nittany Lion to record 100 or more hits in consecutive seasons. He has 251 career tackles, tied with Hall of Famer Jack Ham, and needs less than 100 tackles to become school career leader.

Earlier this season, Posluszny became the first Big Ten student-athlete selected Football Player of the Week (Offense, Defense or Special Teams) three consecutive weeks since the conference began the selections in 1987.

Posluszny is one of three finalists for the Butkus Award. The winner will be announced Saturday night in Orlando.

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