Nittany Mountain: The 1980s

80's Rushmore

Continuing with our "Mt. Rushmores" of Penn State football we move on to the "Golden decade" of the 80’s. The 80’s would be the years Joe Paterno and Penn State would finally see a national championship. Before the decade was over Paterno had two national championships to add to his already amazing resume. When we decided to do this series I begged (literally) to get this decade. I don’t remember much of the ’82 championship season, I was 10, but I vividly remember the ‘86 undefeated season. That was the year I saw my first live Penn State game and it was the game that got me forever hooked on Penn State. I still think the ’87 Fiesta Bowl was one of the finest games ever played by a Penn State team. Jimmy Johnson, the coach of Miami at the time, once said the better team lost that game. He’s right and wrong with that statement, the more talented team lost the game but the better team won. The ’86 Miami Hurricanes were filled with a lot of individual talent but they couldn’t match Penn State’s hustle and solidarity.

Nittany Mountain: The Decades
Pre-1960s (Devon) - 6.25.12
The 1960s (BScaff) - 7.2.12
The 1970s (Mike) - 7.9.12
The 1980s (Galen) - 7.16.12
The 1990s (Cari) - 7.23.12
The 2000s (Jeff) - 7.30.12

With championship teams in the decade, it was difficult to pick the four guys that would represent Penn State. Of course since it is Linebacker-U it made my job easy because there were quite a few great linebackers to come out of the decade. Without further ado I give you the Rushmore of 1980: Shane Conlan, Andre Collins, Todd Blackledge, and Curt Warner.

Contenders:

RB D J Dozier

RB Blair Thomas

FB Steve Smith

WR Kenny Jackson

G Mike Munchak

G Steve Wisniewski

DE Walker Lee Ashley

LB Scott Radecic

LB Trey Bauer

CB Eddie Johnson

S Michael Zordich

S Pete Harris

Curt Warner 1979-1982

An All-America selection in 1981, Curt Warner finished his career at Penn State with 11 season, 14 bowl and 42 school records. Penn State was 18-0 when Warner ran for over 100 yards. A four-year letterman at Penn State, Warner played in four bowl games, including two Fiesta Bowls (1980- 82) and a Sugar Bowl (1983). Named Most Outstanding Offensive Player in both Fiesta Bowls, he led the Nittany Lions to the 1982 National Championship with their Sugar Bowl triumph. While at Penn State, he set records for career rushing yardage (3,398), career all-purpose yardage (4,982) and 100-yard rushing games (18). Warner is also second all-time in career kick-off return average (28.8 yards), tallying 922 yards and three touchdowns on 32 returns. The third overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, Warner spent seven seasons in the league. During his career in the NFL, Warner was a four-time All-Pro selection. In 2009 Warner was inducted into the College football hall of fame.

Todd Blackledge 1979-1982

Blackledge started for the Nittany Lions from 1980 to 1982, going 31-5 through three seasons. After leading Penn State to the national championship in 1982, Blackledge won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s most outstanding quarterback, and he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. His passer rating was 10th among the nation’s quarterbacks that season. In 1982 Blackledge was a first-team Academic All-American, and earned the Eric Walker Award that year from Penn State, given annually to the senior believed to have most "enhanced the esteem and recognition of the University."

Andre Collins 1986 -1989

A standout inside linebacker at Penn State, Collins was named a 1989 All-American and a Butkus Award finalist. Collins' season total of 130 tackles is fourth-best in school history. He also tied Jack Ham's season and career records for punt blocks with three and four, respectively. A second-round pick of the Washington Redskins in the 1990 National Football League Draft, he played with the Redskins (1990-94), Cincinnati (1995-97) and Chicago (1998-99). While with the Redskins, Collins started in Super Bowl XXVI.

Shane Conlan 1982-1986

If you sit down and compose a list of Linebacker-U’s best Linebackers you couldn’t make the list without including Shane Conlan. I wanted to be Shane Conlan, he was the reason I played Linebacker in high school. Soft spoken off the field he turned into a running back mauling tackle machine when he stepped on the field. In the National Championship game against Miami, Conlan had eight tackles and two interceptions. Most memorably, he returned the second of his two interceptions 38 yards to the Miami 5-yard line to set up D.J. Dozier's game-winning touchdown. Conlan was a team captain in ’86 and led the team with 79 tackles including a team-high 63 solo stops. During his career at Penn State, Conlan had 274 tackles, including a school-record 186 solos. During his final two collegiate seasons (1985 & 1986), he was named an All-American at outside linebacker, making him the sixth two-time All-American at Penn State. He received this honor from NEA in 1985 and from Walter Camp, The Football News, Football Writers, Football Coaches, Associated Press, United Press International, and College and Pro Football Newsweekly in 1986. In addition, Conlan was a 1986 finalist for the prestigious Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker (I still think he should have won).


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