UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nine former Nittany Lions playing in the National Football League are on playoff teams, with at least one Penn Stater on seven of the squads vying for the Super Bowl XLVII title.
There are 30 former Nittany Lions with NFL teams, placing Penn State in the Top 15 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.
A pair of former Nittany Lions – wide receiver Deon Butler and fullback Michael Robinson — are looking to help the Seattle Seahawks capture their first Super Bowl title. The Seahawks play at Washington Jan. 6. Penn State career rushing yardage leader Evan Royster is in his second season with the Redskins.
Former “LinebackerU.” standout NaVorro Bowman has had an All-Pro season in helping he San Francisco 49ers win the NFC West and a first round bye in the playoffs. Bowman was second in the NFL this season with 149 tackles. He also had one interception, one forced fumble and seven pass breakups.
Tight end Andrew Quarless is in his third season with the NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers. During his rookie season, he helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV. Quarless is on the Packers’ injured reserve list and rookie safety Chaz Powell is on the Green Bay practice squad. The Packers host Minnesota on Jan. 5.
Also in the NFC, rookie tight end Andrew Szczerba is a member of the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad. The Falcons are the top seed in the NFC and have a first round bye.
In his first season with Indianapolis, 2008 Rimington Trophy winner A.Q. Shipley has worked with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to help the Colts earn an 11-5 record and an AFC wild card berth. The Colts play at Baltimore Jan. 6.
A 2011 consensus first-team All-American, rookie defensive tackle Devon Still has helped Cincinnati to an AFC wild card berth. The Bengals play at Houston on Jan. 5.
In addition to the nine players, one former Nittany Lion football student-athlete and one former assistant coach are on the coaching staffs of NFL playoff teams. Former Penn State standout defensive back Darren Perry is in his fourth season coaching the Green Bay safeties and has earned Super Bowl rings as a coach with the Packers (XLV) and Pittsburgh Steelers (XL). Former Penn State assistant coach Jim Caldwell is his first season as offensive coordinator with Baltimore. As head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, he led the team to Super Bowl XLIV.
In addition to Bowman ranking No. 2 in the NFL in tackles this season, former Penn State two-time All-America linebacker Paul Posluszny (Jacksonville) was tied for No. 8 in the NFL with 139 hits. A Butkus and Bednarik award winner, Posluszny also grabbed three interceptions, forced two fumbles and had 10 pass breakups this season.
Former Penn State linebacker Cameron Wake (Miami) earned his second All-Pro selection after recording 15 sacks this season to rank No. 4 in the NFL. And former Nittany Lion consensus All-American Tamba Hali (Kansas City) earned his second Pro Bowl selection.
A total of 329 Nittany Lions have been selected all-time in the NFL Draft, including 36 in the first round. In the 2012 NFL Draft, Penn State had at least four players selected for the 39th time in NFL Draft history.
Penn State has had at least one alumnus on a Super Bowl team for 41 of 46 title games. Thirty-four former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 51 Super Bowl rings as players, including tackle Kareem McKenzie and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy with the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
Former Nittany Lions on 2012-13 NFL playoff teams:
(Pro season in parentheses):
Atlanta Falcons – Andrew Szczerba (1-practice squad)
Cincinnati Bengals – Devon Still (1)
Green Bay Packers – Andrew Quarless (3-injured reserve list), Chaz Powell (1-practice squad)
Indianapolis Colts – A.Q. Shipley (2)
San Francisco 49ers – NaVorro Bowman (3)
Seattle Seahawks – Deon Butler (4), Michael Robinson (7)
Washington Redskins – Evan Royster (2)