Linebacker U. Tourney: Onkotz vs. Arrington

Welcome to the semifinals of the Linebacker U. Tournament. After a short break to catch their breath, the final four of Jack Ham, Dennis Onkotz, LaVar Arrington and Shane Conlan are ready to have at it to determine the best of the best.

In our first semifinal clash, Onkotz, the No. 2 seed, tangles with Arrington, the No. 3 seed.

As a reminder, the seeding of this tournament was handled by Penn State sports historian Lou Prato. Bios were written by FOS with input from Prato's Penn State Football Encyclopedia.

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 was 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.


An amazing, if brief, Penn State career helped Arrington “leap” toward the top of the seedings for this tournament. The Pittsburgh native won the Butkus and Bednarik Awards as a junior in 1999 (the first Lion to capture either). He was also named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year that same season. He opted for early entry into the NFL Draft and was the second overall pick in 2000. Arrington inexplicably saw little game action as a true freshman at Penn State, but still finished his short career with 163 tackles, 39 tackles for loss and 19 sacks. Perhaps the best all-around athlete on this list (or in the history of the program, regardless of position), he receives demerits for never playing on a team that contended for a national title.

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