SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
8/02/2006 04:50:00 PM
Guess Who's Back
Paul Posluszny tore knee ligaments in Penn State's 26-23 Orange Bowl win over Florida State.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
CHICAGO -- My initial reaction upon walking up to Paul Posluszny's table at Big Ten media day Wednesday was, "What are you doing here?" Not that I wasn't happy to see him, but it seems almost... I guess the word is "implausible," that such an accomplished player (Butkus and Bednarik winner, consensus All-America) is still in college.
Even if he hadn't suffered a torn knee ligaments in the Orange Bowl, however, the Penn State linebacker said he still probably would not be at an NFL training camp right now. "I was exploring the option [last winter]," said Posluszny, "but I didn't feel comfortable with the idea of being anywhere else but State College."
This was my second straight year interviewing Posluszny at this event. Last August, however, I, like nearly every other reporter in the room, was asking him some variation of the same questions: "Are you guys ever going to be good again? Is this it for Coach Paterno?" Etc., etc. It wasn't the most enjoyable two hours of his life.
A year later, he seemed pretty relaxed, and rightfully so, coming off a season in which he was named the best linebacker in the country and his team finished No. 3 in the country. He was in such a friendly mood, in fact, that when I mentioned all the E-mails I got from furious Ohio State fans when he won the Butkus over A.J. Hawk, Posluszny replied, "I agree with them. If I was voting, I would have voted for A.J. He was the best linebacker in the country last year."
If there was any doubt last year, he can put it to rest with a repeat performance this season. The knee (which did not require surgery but heavy rehabilitation) is 100 percent, though he says he only reached that point about three or four weeks ago. The defense around him has changed dramatically, with seven new starters, which might make for a rough go when the Nittany Lions visit Brady Quinn and Notre Dame the second week of the season. Not that Posluszny is complaining. "Are you kidding me? Playing in South Bend?" said Posluszny. "That's going to be fun."
As a Buckeye fan, I can't say that I was "furious" when Posluszny won the Butkus over A.J. Hawk - more like "perplexed" at the voting. But secondly, I'm a Big Ten fan so I applaud Mr. Posluszny's comment when he said that "If I was voting, I would have voted for A.J.". Trash talk all you want in the rest of the country - but we've got class in the Midwest!
Let's face it. Posluszny didn't win the Butkus over Hawk so much as Paterno--the country's number one teddy bear, sexual assault apologist, and moral torch bearer--won it over Tressel. Good on Posluszny for coming clean.
Are you kidding me? Poz was being humble. That's it. Couldn't you tell when talking to him? Hawk, although definitely no where near a slouch, was not the best. He was terrific running sideline to sideline but wasn't the stop gapper Poz was. Plain and simple. I'm objective and not even a PSU fan.
Stop hating Paterno because he is double your age but has more energy and determination than you.
PSU will finish second in the Big 10 this year. With the exception of Michael Robinson, EVERY star, not every starter, but every star is returning.
They've been underrated and no way will N.D. compete and catch people off guard and win with a pitcher/receiver as their best offensive threat.
I'll say I was furious. He wouldnt have been a top 20 pick in the draft but he was the best linebacker, yeah right. No LB gets drafted high when they run a 4.6 or worse at the combine and thats what he would have ran. Try getting all those tackles when the whole D is a bunch of maniacs flying around. Obviously the guy is very talented but there are plenty I would rather have on my team. Lets see if PSU can even sniff another BCS game, my guess is not for another 5 yrs.