Senior Paul Posluszny (Aliquippa), the 2005 Butkus Award winner, and junior Dan Connor (Wallingford), are among the 65 candidates for the Butkus Award, which is presented by The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Inc. (DACO). The prestigious award is named in honor of former Chicago Bears NFL Hall of Fame member, Dick Butkus.
Last year, Posluszny captured "Linebacker U's" second Butkus Award, joining former All-American LaVar Arrington in 1999. Winner of the 2005 Bednarik Award, Posluszny has an opportunity to join Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth (1985-86) as the only repeat winner in the 22-year history of the Butkus Award.
Penn State is one of six schools with two candidates for the Butkus Award, and the lone Big Ten school with multiple candidates.
Posluszny and Connor are joined by senior Tim Shaw (Livonia, Mich.) to form the nation's No. 1 linebacker unit, according to The Sporting News.
During the 2005 season, Posluszny was a consensus first team All-American and the only junior finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, in addition to winning the Butkus and Bednarik Awards. The 2006 Big Ten and consensus national pre-season Defensive Player of the Year, he is ranked No. 5 on the Watch List for the Heisman Trophy by Lindy's Football.
In 2005, Posluszny became the seventh Nittany Lion to earn first team All-America and Academic All-America honors. He is one of the squad's top students with a 3.57 grade point average in finance through the spring semester. Posluszny has made the Dean's List in five of his initial six semesters and is on schedule to graduate in December, 3 — years after enrolling at Penn State.
Posluszny is the 12th linebacker to earn first team All-America honors at "Linebacker U" under Coach Joe Paterno. He is a member 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.
The former Hopewell High School standout led Penn State with 116 tackles last season and has 256 career stops, needing 88 to pass Greg Buttle and become the school's career leader. Posluszny is only the fourth Nittany Lion to record 100 or more hits in consecutive seasons.
During the 2005 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 Penn State's first two-time team captain since Mike Reid and Steve Smear in 1969.
Connor started the final seven games last season and recorded 76 tackles, tied with Shaw for fourth on the team. He made 5.5 tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks and was third on the team with eight pass break-ups. The former Strath Haven High School All-American also returned a fumble 18 yards for a touchdown at Illinois.
The Butkus Award® Watch List will be trimmed to 10 semi-finalists on Thursday, October 19. Three finalists will be announced on Thursday, November 9. The winner will be announced Saturday, December 9, 2006 at the Butkus Award® Gala in Orlando, Fla.