Nov. 12, 2011. Devon Still (71) tackles Taylor Martinez (3), despite being held on the play. Penn State fell to Nebraska, 17-14, in Beaver Stadium. (BSD/Mike Pettigano)
Not exactly shocking news, given Penn State's track record along the defensive front four:
"Still becomes the fifth Nittany Lion to be selected the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year, which honors former Penn State All-American Courtney Brown and former Michigan State standout Bubba Smith. Penn State's Brown (1999), Jimmy Kennedy (2002), Tamba Hali (2005) and Jared Odrick (2009) also were selected the Big Ten's premier defensive lineman. Still and Odrick are the only defensive tackles to be named Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year since 1994."
Gerald Hodges also received first-team all-conference honors this season, topping off a slew of Nittany Lions making the lists. But it's nearly unbelievable how Larry Johnson, Sr. is able to maintain his place as college football's premier defensive line coach. I would challenge any other position coach--not just line, or even coordinator overall--to produce the kind of annual success LJS has at Penn State. Even the linebackers, where Penn State makes its dough, have trouble holding their own against what we've seen on the defensive line under LJS.
Still will be sorely missed next season, even with Jordan Hill returning along side some very talented up-and-comers. Losing No. 71 will be akin to losing Jared Odrick after 2009. Others have come close to matching the level of dominance Still was able to wrought upon opposing offensive lines--Ollie Ogbu, Jay Alford, Scott Paxson, Anthony Adams--but there is a reason he and Odrick remain the only two defensive tackles to earn Big Ten DL of the Year.
Congrats to Devon. Here's to him leveling many an NFL quarterback over the next decade.