Penn State Great is Saying Goodbye

All-American linebacker Paul Posluszny, one of the most decorated athletes in school history, plays his final home game when the Nittany Lions tangle with Michigan State today. Typically, he is downplaying the event.

A year ago on Senior Day, Penn State captains Alan Zemaitis and Michael Robinson received adulation from nearly 110,000 spectators in Beaver Stadium. But the Nittany Lions' third captain, junior Paul Posluszny, simply watched the events unfold.

For today's Senior Day game against Michigan State, however, the All-American linebacker figures to be a center of attention. He is likely to be the last senior introduced before the game — an honor Zemaitis and Robinson received last season — even if he doesn't know it yet.

“If we're going in alphabetical order,” he said. “I would think that's where I'm going to be; with the P's.”

Right.

Because as all Penn State fans know, Posluszny has been anything but a run-of-the-mill player for the Nittany Lions. He's an academic All-American with a 3.57 grade point average and he is set to graduate in 3.5 years. He won awards for the nation's best defender (Bednarik) and linebacker (Butkus) as a junior. The Butkus selection committee has named him a finalist again this season, as he sits at 100 tackles, third in Big Ten, despite switching positions and struggling with a knee brace earlier in the season.

But he downplays all of the publicity. He even goes so far as to say he's not the top linebacker in the PSU program.

“I have a great amount of respect for Dan Connor. He's the best linebacker on our team and I really believe that,” Posluszny said. “He's been doing a great job and I don't think he's in anybody's shadow. He makes unbelievable plays.”

Posluszny refuses to believe his own hype and part of him hates the attention. When he watches the Big Ten's sportsmanship video, which airs on the big screens during games at Beaver Stadium, he squirms as teammates kid him for how uncomfortable he appears.

“I don't really have anything to say because they're right,” he said laughing.

Though Posluszny broke Greg Buttle's Penn State career tackles record earlier this season, he can't think of one play that sums up his time in Happy Valley. Perhaps it is because there are too many from which to choose.

As a freshman clad in No. 39, he jumped a pass in the flat on Senior Day against Indiana. He bobbled the pigskin, pinning it against his helmet before pulling it into his chest and sprinting for a touchdown. He earned his first career start a week later at Michigan State and never relinquished the position.

In the rematch with Indiana a year later, he recorded two tackles on a goal-line stand with Penn State up, 22-16, and the clock winding down. The Lions held on for the win that served as a springboard for their success in 2005.

Speaking of which, in 2005 he became the first player to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for three consecutive weeks. In that stretch, he recorded 22 tackles in Penn State's come-from-behind win at Northwestern, had a highlight-reel tackle of Minnesota's Gary Russell and sacked Troy Smith twice in a 14-10 win over Ohio State.

Today he will run out on the field for his final regular-season game. But before it happens, he will enjoy one of the loudest Senior Day ovations in school history.

Typically, he's more concerned about what happens after the introduction.

“I'm definitely going to enjoy this last game,” he said. “It's going to be something to remember and I'll miss playing in Beaver Stadium.”

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