LB Tourney: D'Onofrio vs. Conlan

Welcome to the opening round of the Penn State Linebacker U. Tournament, where we take the 16 greatest 'backers of the Joe Paterno era and have them square off in one-on-one battles (elections). We continue the tournament with 1980s standout Andre Collins taking on early 1970s star John Skorupan. The winner gets No. 2 seed Dennis Onkotz in the next round.

The following profiles are provided by FOS and (where applicable) the Penn State Football Encyclopedia, which was written by PSU sports historian Lou Prato. Prato also handled the seeding for this tournament.

NO. 4 SHANE CONLAN (1983-86)

Conlan posted great numbers in his career (274 tackles, including a school-record 186 solos) and was at his best in the biggest games. In the '85 national championship game against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, Conlan spied Sooner QB Jamelle Holieway, limiting the explosive runner to one yard rushing. In the 1986 title tilt vs. Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, Conlan brushed aside a first-quarter knee injury and third-quarter ankle injury to post a monster game (eight tackles, two interceptions). He returned one pick 38 yards to set up D.J. Dozier's game-winning touchdown. A first-round draft pick by Buffalo in 1987, Conlan spent six season with the Bills, making the Pro Bowl and three Super Bowls, before finishing his pro career by playing two seasons for the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams.

NO. 13 MARK D'ONOFRIO (1988-91)

Another one of the tough guys who carried on the "Linebacker U." tradition, D'Onofrio lent a mean streak to the defenses of the early 1990s. He hit so hard that as a junior in 1990, he forced a school-record five fumbles. He also had 11 sacks as a sophomore. His 10 tackles in a season-opening win over Georgia Tech in 1991 helped him earn a spot on the Kickoff Classic All-Decade Team. D'Onofrio seemed certain to win All-America honors as a senior in 1991, but a midseason shoulder injury in a win over BYU forced him to miss the last six games of the year. A second-round draft pick of Green Bay in 1992, D'Onofrio spent two years in the NFL before retiring due to injury. He is now an assistant coach at Temple.

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