Linebacker Tourney: Quarterfinal Action

The second round of our tournament kicks off with No. 2 seed Dennis Onkotz taking on No. 7 Andre Collins. Will form hold as it did in the first round, where all of the higher seeds won? Or will the quarterfinals feature its share of upsets? You make the call by voting.

Welcome to the quarterfinals of the Linebacker U. Tournament, where we endeavor (with your help) to name the best linebacker of the Joe Paterno era at Penn State.

Form held in the opening round, as all eight of the top seeds won. The tightest race, as expected, was between seeds No. 8 (Ed O'Neil) and No. 9 (Scott Radecic), where O'Neil rallied for a 54.1-45.9 percent victory.

But four of the top five seeds — No. 1 Jack Ham, No. 2 Dennis Onkotz, No. 4 Shane Conlan and No. 5 Paul Posluszny — all garnered more than 90 percent of the vote in their respective mathups.

See the entire bracket here.

We kick off the quarterfinals with a key showdown in the lower half of the bracket, with No. 7 seed Andre Collins (who beat No. 10 John Skorupan, 73.3-13.7 in round one) facing off with No. 2 Onkotz (a 95.8-4.2 victor over Don Graham).

The seedings and most of the background information for this tournament came from Penn State sports historian Lou Prato, who wrote the “Penn State Football Encyclopedia.” The FOS staff added to the player bios where needed.

You can cast your vote for the competition in the poll on our Audibles Message Board. Click here to find it.

Here are the participants in this showdown:

NO. 2 DENNIS ONKOTZ (1967-69)

Say what you will about Jack Ham, but this is the man who began Penn State's tradition of “Linebacker U.” A tremendous scholar/athlete who carried a 3.5 GPA in biophysics, Onkotz was a consensus All-American as a junior and senior and the Lions did not lose a game in that stretch. He led the team in tackles three straight seasons. A prototype of the modern-day freak athlete at linebacker, Onkotz had 11 career interceptions and returned a school record three of them for touchdowns. Amazingly, he ranks among Penn State's all-time leaders in punt return yardage (619) and his 13.2-yard career average is better than figures posted by O.J. McDuffie and Bobby Engram. He also checks in at No. 3 on the career tackles list (287). Onkotz was a third-round pick of the New York Jets in 1970 and played one year before sustaining a career-ending broken leg.

NO. 7 ANDRE COLLINS (1986-89)

The first (and best) of five brothers who played for the Nittany Lions, Collins began his career as a safety but matured into one of the nation's best linebackers. A team captain as a senior in 1989, he tied Ham's record for blocked kicks in a season (three) to go along with 130 tackles. Collins was a first-team All-American and one of five finalists for the Butkus Award as a senior. Collins finished his career with 257 tackles, sixth on the school list, and in his final game — a rousing win over BYU in the 1989 Holiday Bowl — he had one of the most spectacular special teams' plays in school history, returning an interception on a two-point conversion try 102 yards for two points. He spent a decade in the NFL with Washington, Cincinnati and Chicago.


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