Which single Penn State player meant to most to Penn State football history?

Nittanyfarmer

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Honestly, Joe Paterno deserves to be on the list at number 1, but let's not forget the man who started to bring PSU into the national spotlight and the one who mentored and brought Paterno into the family: Rip Engle. Rip Engle laid the foundation for PSU football to become a national brand and Paterno built the house on top of what Rip Engle accomplished.
 
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psu1969a

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IMO there is no single player that definitively stands alone. Rather we've have players through different eras which have made this the program that it is today.

Triplette symbolizes our motto WE ARE
Moore was our brightest star in the NFL
Cappy gave us a Heisman
Lavar cemented us as LBU
MRob got us out of the Dark Years
Mauti/Zordich got us through the Sanctions
Barkley gave us a modern icon
Lavar cemented us as LBU - poppycock. You forget Ham, Posluszny, Conlan, Lee, and Connor to name a few.
 
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psuro

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The corner table at the Skellar
Honestly, Joe Paterno deserves to be on the list at number 1, but let's not forget the man who started to bring PSU into the national spotlight and the one who mentored and brought Paterno into the family: Rip Engle. Rip Engle laid the foundation for PSU football to become a national brand and Paterno built the house on top of what Rip Engle accomplished.
When did Joe or Rip play football at PSU?
 

LemonEars

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Should it be:
Reid/Onkontz for leading the program to heights/success not seen by those alive?
Cappelletti for the storybook ‘73 season that had Hollywood retell?
Warner for helping elevate the program from overlooked regional team to national spotlight?
Conlan for his years that culminated in the most watched and arguably hyped game ever?
I would pick Reid/Onkotz as the most important players in PSU football history. They took us from mediocrity to national prominence. I don't know why you think they weren't seen by those alive. I sat in the stands watching both of them play for their full careers and there are many like me still alive! Plus I am still a season ticket holder, work a job about 45 hours a week, and don't use viagra.
 
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IsomsPopBelly

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I would say that it might have been Derrick Williams. Even though he was not the all-time greatest PSU player, when he committed he was the #1 recruit. The program seemed on the verge of irrelevance until he committed.

That defense might have been good enough and Mrob might have been able to bolt enough to get to 10 wins anyway. Pre-knee injury Paul, Tampa, Conner, AZ on D and lower key guys stepping up big on offense- a lot of things together very nicely that year.
 

Mufasa94

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I would pick Reid/Onkotz as the most important players in PSU football history. They took us from mediocrity to national prominence. I don't know why you think they weren't seen by those alive...
I was referring to 1911 and 1912 if one wanted to refer to those teams’ success. I doubt many watching in ‘68 saw anything from those years.
 
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LemonEars

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I was referring to 1911 and 1912 if one wanted to refer to those teams’ success. I doubt many watching in ‘68 saw anything from those years.
Sorry I misinterpreted your post. I thought your were referring to the Mike Reid years.
 

KC-KS-Lion

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If I had to pick just 1 player, I would say John Cappelletti as he is still our only Heisman Trophy winner and was an extremely likeable person who brought out our emotions during his Heisman acceptance speech over how the real hero was his brother Joey.

After Cappy, there are about 15 other players who were significant figures who helped mold PSU football into our memory banks. In no particular order, here is my list":

1. Mike Mauti - he and Michael Zordich helped Bill O'Brien save Penn State football after the Sandusky and NCAA penalty debacle.
2. Michael Robinson - sacrificed playing his preferred position for the good of the team and never complained playing terrifically at every position.
3. John Urshell - his 4.0 average after getting his PH.D in Mathematics from MIT says it all!
4. Saquon Barkley - Made PSU = RBU
5 Franco Harris - truly a legend at Penn State and a valiant supporter of Joe Paterno and everything good at Penn State.
6. Adam Taliefero - a hero and miraculous survivor of a terrible spinal injury.
7. DWill along with the other 5-star_____ put Penn State back into a higher valued recruiting level during a down time
8. Jack Ham - Founding father for making PSU = LBU, and great analyst and color commentator of PSU Football!
9 Lavar Arrington - Kept the LBU title intact!
10. Mike Reid - Penn State's "Piano man" and All-American (if not NFL HOFer)
11. Tamba Hali - what a story of a kid growing up in Africa and coming to America to become a football hero!
12. Todd Blackledge - makes us all proud Penn Stater's by his excellent college football analysis and support to Penn State
13. Lenny Moore - along with Wally Triplette helped break down color barriers at Penn State and became a NFL HOF player for the Baltimore Colts
14. Joe Paterno - he was not a PSU player, but no single person was more important for bringing class, honor with success and credibility to Penn State! He made us all proud though Sandusky tarnished his image to the outside world only!
I would add McGloin to your list, not very high, but any absence of him from the list would overlook his role in BOB's offense his first and most critical year at PSU. Mauti and Zordich were critical, but they didn't play offense and I'm not sure anyone else could have handled BOB's offense.
 
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psuro

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The corner table at the Skellar
I would pick Reid/Onkotz as the most important players in PSU football history. They took us from mediocrity to national prominence. I don't know why you think they weren't seen by those alive. I sat in the stands watching both of them play for their full careers and there are many like me still alive! Plus I am still a season ticket holder, work a job about 45 hours a week, and don't use viagra.
TMI.

No one needs to know how many hours you work.
 

fairfaxlion2

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That defense might have been good enough and Mrob might have been able to bolt enough to get to 10 wins anyway. Pre-knee injury Paul, Tampa, Conner, AZ on D and lower key guys stepping up big on offense- a lot of things together very nicely that year.

Or they lose to Northwestern without DWill and the season never takes off at all.
 
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Alphabets

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Michael Mauti and Christian Hackenberg. Not as much for what they did on the field, but what they did off the field that prevented PSU from going into a multi year tailspin from which the program would have never reached the heights of 2012 and 2016 and into the CJF era.
Ding, ding, ding. Couldn't have said it better myself. Hackenberg may not have lived up to expectations on the field, but he is blue and white through and through and his commitment shifted the mindset of so many to show that Penn State was not going to just fade away. Can't thank that kid enough for hanging tough during a tough time.
 

91Joe95

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I would pick Reid/Onkotz as the most important players in PSU football history. They took us from mediocrity to national prominence. I don't know why you think they weren't seen by those alive. I sat in the stands watching both of them play for their full careers and there are many like me still alive! Plus I am still a season ticket holder, work a job about 45 hours a week, and don't use viagra.

I don't believe you. The alive part.
 

kwg

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Matt McGloin.
He had a phenomenal senior year
Freshman left tackle
TE’s who never caught a pass prior breaking school records that year
Silas Redd quitting just prior to summer practice
Had to learn a pro offense in a few months to beat out higher ranked QBs ahead of him
Many other starters on offense first time players
Mauti was huge but without Matt we don’t win 8 games, have a loosing season and the program dies.
 
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Wallace Breen

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I really can't name one. As an out of state Penn State grad that only started following the team after they joined the Big Ten, here are my top five.

1. Mike Mauti - Gerald Hodges and Allen Robinson were the best players on that team but Mauti kept things together.
2. Christian Hackenberg - Many of have said. His commit finished the job Mauti, Zordich and others started.
3. Michael Robinson - I think he is the most underrated player in Penn State history. He beat out Zack Mills twice yet wasn't the starter and brought the team together when it was divided.
4. Derrick Williams - Much like Hackenberg, his commitment mattered. On the field, he was underrated.
5. Zack Mills - I think Mills was severely over-rated as a player but his fire, toughness and competitiveness held it together in 01 and setting up 02.
 

MtNittany

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Why coaches are included in a player question is beyond me.

The answer is Curt Warner.
 

GulfCoastLion

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I really can't name one. As an out of state Penn State grad that only started following the team after they joined the Big Ten, here are my top five.

1. Mike Mauti - Gerald Hodges and Allen Robinson were the best players on that team but Mauti kept things together.
2. Christian Hackenberg - Many of have said. His commit finished the job Mauti, Zordich and others started.
3. Michael Robinson - I think he is the most underrated player in Penn State history. He beat out Zack Mills twice yet wasn't the starter and brought the team together when it was divided.
4. Derrick Williams - Much like Hackenberg, his commitment mattered. On the field, he was underrated.
5. Zack Mills - I think Mills was severely over-rated as a player but his fire, toughness and competitiveness held it together in 01 and setting up 02.
Not a bad list on a relative short time line in PSU’s long history of football prominence. Relative to Zach Mills, I think he is actually very underrated as a PSU Quarterback, based on the teams he played on (referred to as the dark years) and the fact that significant injuries hindered his final 2 seasons at Penn State. But as the true warrior he was, he played though those injuries with no complaints or whining.
 
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KanePoster

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The poster who replied "Mike McQueary - and not in a good way" is correct.

We have had a ton of great players, many great leaders/people also.

But the biggest impact was Mike McQueary's mishandling of what he saw/thought he saw with respect to Sandusky.

It turned us from the most respected powerhouse program in the country to a program that is considered as "just another bunch of people who will do anything to win and they're not even good at that anymore".

Sad. Terrible. Not saying I blame him, but those really are the facts.
 

MtNittany

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agree with your first point

Curt Warner would definitely be in my Mt. Rushmore of PLAYERS
My second would maybe be Fusina. He got PSU to the hump and nearly over it. Big, tough s.o.b. But that's the time period you all should be looking at. The guy that mentioned Parsons must be 15 years old...His importance is exactly zero.
 
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GulfCoastLion

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Yep - but no one noticed. 1978-1986 is when PSU Football went national. So somewhere in there is your player.
Not sure I subscribe to that, because every phase (PSU football, especially under the Paterno era) was necessary building blocks & subject to the era they played in, etc... But if you go by that definition, I’d go with ‘Curt Warner’, since he was clearly the best player on the first National Championship team. I was a student from 1976-1980 and loved the 1978 team, but they came up short against Alabama and Joe needed to make changes to address the issues that cost him the Sugar Bowl, in order to win the National titles in the 80’s. (Speed, more balanced passing attack, etc.)
 

Jerademan

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Not sure I subscribe to that, because every phase (PSU football, especially under the Paterno era) was necessary building blocks & subject to the era they played in, etc... But if you go by that definition, I’d go with ‘Curt Warner’, since he was clearly the best player on the first National Championship team. I was a student from 1976-1980 and loved the 1978 team, but they came up short against Alabama and Joe needed to make changes to address the issues that cost him the Sugar Bowl, in order to win the National titles in the 80’s. (Speed, more balanced passing attack, etc.)
GCL: As the OP who made this listing, I agree 100% with you that every era of Penn State football history was instrumental in defining what we are today, and my intent was to take a look-back into where we came from to help define what single player has had the greatest impact on what Penn State football is today. This was really an impossible question to answer as obviously we are the cumulative result of so many eras with different players, coaches, administrations and student / fan followers. One thing is for sure though in my mind: it was Joe Paterno who put this school on the national map not only for a highly honored football program, but as an internationally recognized US university with high distinction. The fact that the Sandusky scandal has scarred our image is truly disturbing, but we are still a well-honored University to be proud of! In some respects, Saquon Barkley may be "the player" , as he has helped restore our excellent reputation and is a household name across the country as a premier RB and person!
 
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Nitt1300

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It's kind of like "best guitarist"- there is no such thing, really.

But- without Mike Reid and Dennis Onkotz, there are no undefeated 1968 and 1969 Orange Bowl teams, and it was those teams which got PSU recognized as a national power.

Prior to those teams, we were largely regarded as an "eastern" team, and most people probably would have thought of Penn State as maybe third in the East- behind both Syracuse and Pitt. And those people would have been correct.
 

GulfCoastLion

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It's kind of like "best guitarist"- there is no such thing, really.

But- without Mike Reid and Dennis Onkotz, there are no undefeated 1968 and 1969 Orange Bowl teams, and it was those teams which got PSU recognized as a national power.

Prior to those teams, we were largely regarded as an "eastern" team, and most people probably would have thought of Penn State as maybe third in the East- behind both Syracuse and Pitt. And those people would have been correct.
I agree with this. The undefeated late 60 teams brought us national recognition as a true power program without question. However because we were in the East, as an independent and not in a power conference, it was held against us in the final polls of ‘69, ‘69, ‘73. So it ultimately did take wining the National Title in 1982 with the toughest schedule in the nation (Nebraska, Notre Dame, Alabama, Pitt, Georgia, etc) to finally breakthrough.
 
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JoeLion

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He doesn’t make my list but I am surprised Kerry Collins is never mentioned in any of the discussions I have read over the years.
 
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GulfCoastLion

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GCL: As the OP who made this listing, I agree 100% with you that every era of Penn State football history was instrumental in defining what we are today, and my intent was to take a look-back into where we came from to help define what single player has had the greatest impact on what Penn State football is today. This was really an impossible question to answer as obviously we are the cumulative result of so many eras with different players, coaches, administrations and student / fan followers. One thing is for sure though in my mind: it was Joe Paterno who put this school on the national map not only for a highly honored football program, but as an internationally recognized US university with high distinction. The fact that the Sandusky scandal has scarred our image is truly disturbing, but we are still a well-honored University to be proud of! In some respects, Saquon Barkley may be "the player" , as he has helped restore our excellent reputation and is a household name across the country as a premier RB and person!
Joe Paterno clearly was responsible for turning us into the National power program we became. It’s still unfathomable how the weak administration and BOT’s threw him under the bus and made him the scapegoat for the Sandusky scandal, including hiring Free to deliver the message of an alleged cover up with no evidence, all to protect their own asses.
 
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MaconNitt

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GCL: As the OP who made this listing, I agree 100% with you that every era of Penn State football history was instrumental in defining what we are today, and my intent was to take a look-back into where we came from to help define what single player has had the greatest impact on what Penn State football is today. This was really an impossible question to answer as obviously we are the cumulative result of so many eras with different players, coaches, administrations and student / fan followers. One thing is for sure though in my mind: it was Joe Paterno who put this school on the national map not only for a highly honored football program, but as an internationally recognized US university with high distinction. The fact that the Sandusky scandal has scarred our image is truly disturbing, but we are still a well-honored University to be proud of! In some respects, Saquon Barkley may be "the player" , as he has helped restore our excellent reputation and is a household name across the country as a premier RB and person!
Kind of like asking a parent to pick their favorite child
 

Jerademan

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He doesn’t make my list but I am surprised Kerry Collins is never mentioned in any of the discussions I have read over the years.
I would have agreed with you until he was interviewed while he was a Carolina Panther. He was asked what he thought about Penn State and Joe Paterno. I don't remember his exact answer, but he gave no credit to Penn State for his success and displayed a lack of loyalty.
 
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SLion

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Wow, no Trace McSorley? No business being NFL QB at his size but that kid has guts like no player ever at PSU. OSU WIN, BT champtionship, clutch IA TD, super Fiesta performance..even the gut wrenching losses to OSU, he left it all on the field. He made PSU fun to watch and brought swagger back to program.