The 5 Greatest Football Players in Penn State History

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The 5 Greatest Football Players in Penn State History  

The football program at Pennsylvania State University has had a long and successful history, even though only one of the program’s several thousand players have been awarded the Heisman Trophy. It was difficult to break down the five single best players to play in Happy Valley, but we’ve done so after an exhausting search and analysis. Here they are for your reading pleasure and debate fodder.

#5 – Kerry Collins QB (1991-94)

The single greatest quarterback to ever suit up for the Nittany Lions certainly deserves to be on this list. Kerry Collins did a lot of good things while at Penn State University in the early 1990s, and he went on to make all students and alumni proud with a 16-year NFL career that included a large handful of playoff appearances. Always calm in the pocket and able to launch darts to all regions of the field by way of a very quick and accurate release, Collins led Penn State to several competitive wins during what many referred to as the Golden Era of college football.

#4 – LaVar Arrington (1997-99)

LaVar Arrington had a swagger, a confidence and an abundance of talent every time he took the field for the Nittany Lions throughout his three-year career in the late 1990s. Opposing offenses didn’t seek to topple and conquer Arrington. Instead, they simply designed game plans involving plays that unfolded in areas of the field where he wouldn’t be. Able to actually strike fear into the hearts of opposing linemen, Arrington was one of the most special defensive players to ever come to Happy Valley. A pro career was cut short by injuries and controversy, but he had the potential to be one of the single greatest player ever to come out of Penn State University.

#3 – Kyle Brady TE (1992-95)

If a football expert had access to a laboratory that could build football players, they would be hard-pressed to come up with a better tight end than Kyle Brady. Brady was everyone’s All-American coming out of high school, and he earned All-Big 10 honors as both a junior and senior. The 1994 Penn State football team went undefeated, in large part thanks to the fact that the quarterbacks could rely on the sure hands and brute strength of Brady to get the ball across first down markers and the goal line on a regular basis. He was taken with the ninth overall pick of the 1995 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, but his pro career wasn’t as prolific as it could or should have been. Nonetheless, he was clearly a dominant force while in the college ranks.

#2 – Kurt Warner RB (1979-82)

Thanks to the quarterback that came along about a decade later and led the St. Louis Rams to greatness, Penn State running back Kurt Warner has largely faded off of the radar of football fans. It is unfortunate, because it was one of the single greatest offensive players to ever take the field for the Nittany Lions, and his 1981and 1982 seasons still stand alone as some of the single most impressive among the history of big-time ballcarriers who have suited up in white and navy blue.

#1 – John Cappelletti RB (1970-73)

John Cappelletti is a virtual unknown by Penn State fans under the age of 30, but everybody who cheers for Penn State each Saturday during the last four months of every calendar year should know that Cappelletti is the only Heisman Trophy winner in the history of the program. A running back with excellent field vision and a knack for eluding defenders, he is a player that every fan can truly be proud of.

6 thoughts on “The 5 Greatest Football Players in Penn State History

  1. Sherrill

    John Cappelletti is indeed Penn State’s only Heisman Trophy winner but cannot think of John without also remembering his relationship with his younger brother whose story is told in the TV movie, “Something for Joey”.

    Reply
  2. Maria Paolone

    Oh please, there are just too many to pick five–to simply limit to five. Why not go position by position, offense and defense! Thank you respectfully, wife, mother, fan and alum! Maria Antonette Paolone!

    Reply

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