Connor Named MVP at Nittany Lion Football Banquet

2007 Bednarik Award Winner and All-American

Dec. 9, 2007

All-America linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford) was presented the Hall Foundation Award today as Penn State's outstanding senior player to highlight the State College Quarterback Club's annual banquet honoring the Nittany Lion football team.

A crowd of approximately 900 packed the main ballroom at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

This past Thursday, Connor won the Bednarik Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player. A Penn Stater has won the last three Bednarik Awards, as All-America linebacker Paul Posluszny captured the 2005 and '06 honor from the Maxwell Football Club.

Connor also was named the Walter Camp All-America team on Thursday, becoming Penn State's 14th two-time first team All-American and 91st first team selection overall.

Connor is the leader of one of the nation's top defenses. The Nittany Lions' career tackle leader with 410 hits, he previously was named a semifinalist for Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Rotary Lombardi Award.

The former Strath Haven High School All-American leads Penn State and the Big Ten with 136 tackles (66 solo) for an 11.3 per game average that ranks No. 7 in the nation. Connor's 136 tackles are No. 4 on the school season list. He is second on the team and 10th in the Big Ten with 14.0 TFL for minus-61 yards. Connor is second on the team and 10th in the conference with 6.5 sacks (minus-50). He also has one interception, one fumble recovery and six pass break-ups.

Connor has 20 career double digit tackle games, including eight this season. He became the Nittany Lions' career tackle leader against Purdue on Nov. 3, passing Posluszny, who made 372 stops from 2003-06.

In addition to the player awards (see below), former Nittany Lion player Dick Hoak was presented the Alumni Athlete Award. A Penn State letterman as a running back and defensive back from 1958-60, he was the most valuable player of the 1960 Liberty Bowl, as the Nittany Lions defeated Oregon, 41-12. A 1961 graduate, Hoak played running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 10 years, leading the team in rushing three times and earning All-Pro honors in 1969.

From Jeannette, Pa., Hoak joined the Steelers' coaching staff in 1972, starting at 35-year career under head coaches Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. Hoak served as offensive backfield coach for 20 years before being named running backs coach by Cowher in 1992, the only coach retained from the previous staff. Among the standouts he coached were Franco Harris, the former Nittany Lion standout who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jerome Bettis, Rocky Bleier, Merril Hoge, Barry Foster and Willie Parker. Hoak coached in six Super Bowls, winning five titles with the Steelers.

Other award winners were:

- Richard Maginnis Memorial Award (outstanding offensive lineman) - senior guard John Shaw (Spring Grove);

- John Bruno, Jr. Memorial Award (outstanding member of special teams) - senior center Patrick Weber (Arnold);

- Ridge Riley Award (senior for "sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship") - senior fullback Matt Hahn (Dix Hills, N.Y.);

- Nittany Lion Club Academic Achievement Award - quarterback Kevin Suhey (State College);

- Quarterback Club Special Awards - senior wide receiver and co-captain Terrell Golden (Norfolk, Va.) and senior quarterback and co-captain Anthony Morelli (Pittsburgh);

- Walk-on Award (walk-on player(s) who exemplifies total commitment, loyalty, hard work and courage) senior safety Jason Ganter (State College);

The Robert B. Mitinger, Jr. Award was presented for the fourth time to honor the former Nittany Lion All-American end and State College community leader who passed away in 2004. The award is presented to a squad member who exhibits courage, character and social responsibility. Senior tailback Rodney Kinlaw (Goose Creek, S.C.), was the recipient of the Mitinger Award.

Also, the Penn State Football Letterman's Club announced the establishment of the Joe and Sue Paterno Post-Graduate Scholarship. The initial recipient is to be announced.

The Nittany Lions (8-4) will face Texas A&M (7-5) in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Nittany Lions' second Alamo Bowl appearance is Saturday, Dec. 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET in the The Alamodome in San Antonio. Penn State will be playing in its 34th bowl game under Paterno, who is the all-time leader in bowl appearances and wins (22-10-1 record).

Penn State's remaining tickets for the Valero Alamo Bowl can be ordered via www.GoPSUsports.com, the official website of Penn State Athletics. Fans also can purchase tickets by calling (814) 865-5555 or (800) 863-3336.

Matt Hahn

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