"We become aware of the void as we fill it." -Antonio Porchia
I have absolutely no idea what this quote is from, or who Antonio Porchia is (Wikipedia tells me he was an Argentinian poet born in Conflenti, Italy which sounds like confetti). However, he appears to know about emptiness and how to fill it, so I gave him a BSD guest spot.
We have officially entered into the true down time of the year for football. The post-Super Bowl vibes have worn off (for non-Seahawks fans), spring practices have concluded, and spring games have all been played. Although the time period from now until August 30 will be filled with plenty of recruiting news, there will absolutely be a void in our football lives. Luckily for those reading this, you are loyal readers of Black Shoe Diaries. We are here to make sure that the next four months are filled with fun and exciting football stories to help prepare you for the upcoming season, and we're starting with a great one today.
Devon, Cari, Jared, Bill, and I all set out with a simple mission: to draft the most fearsome Penn State team possible using all time greats from our alma mater's past. The rules were simple, everyone must draft one player for each assigned position. The result was a few hours of trash talk, scolding people to make their pick, finding hidden gems, discovering new players from Penn State's history, and building the perfect team* from the ground up.
*Of course, only one team can be the best. That's for you to decide.
|1||QB||Kerry Collins||QB: Kerry Collins||DL: Bruce Clark|
|10||RB||Larry Johnson||RB: Larry Johnson||DL: Michael Haynes|
|11||LB||LaVar Arrington||RB: Lenny Moore||DL: Walker Lee Ashley|
|20||OL||Jeff Hartings||TE: Kyle Brady||DL: Rosey Grier|
|21||DL||Bruce Clark||WR: O.J. McDuffie||LB: LaVar Arrington|
|30||DB||Kim Herring||WR: Joe Jurevicius||LB: Michael Mauti|
|31||DL||Michael Haynes||OL: Jeff Hartings||LB: Ed O’Neil|
|40||OL||Keith Dorney||OL: Keith Dorney||DB: Kim Herring|
|41||WR||O.J. McDuffie||OL: Chris Conlin||DB: Brian Miller|
|50||TE||Kyle Brady||OL: Marco Rivera|
|60||DB||Brian Miller||FLEX: Dave Joyner||K: Chris Bahr|
|61||RB||Lenny Moore||P: Jeremy Boone|
|81||DL||Walker Lee Ashley|
From the GM's Mouth:
I know, the readers are going to vote on which of us drafted the best team, but I really can't see how any of the other four GMs can even do their write-ups with a straight face. Sorry, guys, but my team's just too stacked to complete with. You want to talk pedigree? We've got 16 All-Americans, four of them two-time first-teamers, by far the most on both counts. Even my joke-flex was an All-American. We've got winners of almost every award they give out, from the Davey O'Brien to the Doak Walker to the Butkus, the Bednarik, the Lombardi, and Walter Camp. And the guys who aren't so decorated? They only include a 3-time all-Big Ten player, a couple guys who went on to be NFL Pro Bowlers, and arguably the best player in Penn State football history. We've got 11 first-round draft picks, and another 5 taken in the second or third round--including our freaking kicker. Other teams will tout their strong secondary, or defensive line, or running game. But we're well-rounded, representative of all the modern eras of Nittany Lion football, and, oh right, have an offense that none of these jabronis can even hope to contain.
With the first overall pick, I took Kerry Collins--he might not be the best player to ever don the white and blue, but he's the best Nittany Lion quarterback by a significant margin, and he's leading an offense as well suited for 2014 as 1994. Bill, god bless you for trying, but you're not slowing down this passing game. Collins is flanked by Larry Johnson, who, at his best, was better than any other Penn State rusher--need I remind you of his straight-up-redonkulous 2002 season?--and Lenny Moore, whose versatility in the passing-game gives him a leg up over every other RB2 anyone else took, and, oh right, is the guy Joe Paterno called "the best player I ever coached." That's first round talent at pick #61, for anyone paying attention. In McDuffie and Jurevicius, we have two complementary receivers--the shifty, downfield threat and the giant possession guy with the soft hands and the crisp route-running; Kyle Brady, the best Nittany Lion tight end in the past 50 years, is reunited with the QB who made him a consensus All-American and a top-10 draft pick. And that offensive line is stifling any pass rush you can throw at it: Dorney and Hartings were both repeat All-Americans, and Marco Rivera, who had a decade-long, successful career in the pros is the weak link. Hey, Nick: Bring it. And pray that your pass rush hits home, because if I were you, I wouldn't like the look of Drew Astorino on Brady down the seam, or Lenny Moore in the flat.
Oh, and the defense? Yeah, it's pretty awesome, too. We're led by Bruce Clark, a two-time All-American and the first junior ever to win the Lombardi Award. Michael Haynes holds a Penn State record with 15 sacks in a season. The only guy who wasn't an All-American is Rosey Grier, and he might actually be the most interesting man in the world. Oh, and he was a pretty good football player, too. And if the line isn't wreaking havoc, then LaVar will have to do it all by his goddamn self. And yeah, he's pretty good at taking things into his own hands. Isn't it amazing that I've waited this long to play the Mike Mauti trump card? Are you going to tell me you're going to vote for a team that doesn't have Michael freaking Mauti? Damn right you're not. And rounding out this bunch of dynamos is Brian Miller--a criminally forgotten and underrated three-time all-conference selection--and Kim Herring, a ball-hawk who will patrol the middle of the field with aplomb. Let me reiterate: There isn't a weakness on this squad, and its strengths are far too strong for anyone to handle.
|5||TE||Ted Kwalick||QB: Daryll Clark||DL: Derek Wake|
|6||LB||Paul Posluszny||RB: John Cappelletti||DL: Devon Still|
|15||LB||Jack Ham||RB: Blair Thomas||DL: Jay Alford|
|16||DE||Derek Wake||WR: Deon Butler||LB: Pete Giftopolous|
|25||QB||Daryll Clark||WR: Jordan Norwood||LB: Paul Poszluzny|
|26||OL||Kareem McKenzie||TE: Ted Kwalick||LB: Jack Ham|
|35||DB||Calvin Lowry||OL: Kareem McKenzie||LB: Terry Killens|
|36||OL||Glenn Ressler||OL: Glenn Ressler||DB: Calvin Lowry|
|45||RB||John Cappelletti||OL: Andre Johnson||DB: David Macklin|
|46||DB||David Macklin||OL: Irv Pankey|
|55||DT||Devon Still||K: Kevin Kelly|
|56||WR||Deon Butler||FLEX: Graham Zug||P: Jeremy Kapinos|
|106||FLEX||THE ALMIGHTY ZUG|
From the GM's Mouth:
My original intent on this draft was to go based entirely on handsomeness, because occasionally I am incredibly shallow. That carefully constructed plan fell by the wayside when Devon drafted my middle school crush, Kerry Collins, first overall.
But never fear, ladies, I've still got your eye candy right here!
Aside from not-so-arguably the best linebacker tandem of all teams in Poz and Jack Ham (I mean, come on), I was able to somewhat fulfill my original intent when I snaggged the handsomeness that is Daryll Clark--and the fact that he's still Penn State's all time leading QB in TDs, throwing on my team to arguably his two favorite targets in Penn State's all-time receptions leader Deon Butler, and arguably the best possession receiver the Nittany Lions have ever had in Jordan Norwood. Coupled with TE Ted Kwalick (yeah, I don't know why I picked him first either)? I think my air game's set, especially since Clark's got the ability to scramble once my offensive line inevitably collapses around him. And, I mean, rounding out the offense with Cappie (who should be able to gain yards at will where none previously existed) and Blair Thomas--a #2 overall pick in the NFL draft? I'll be okay, thanks.
In front of Ham and Poz, neither of whom need any explanation, is the only PSU DT to win B1G Defender of the Year, and a lineman who sacked Brady to win a super bowl ring. Oh, and Derek "Cameron" Wake. Next to the twins in the middle are Terry Killens, who still is tied for the PSU-record for single game sacks, and Pete Giftopolous, who was supposed to be the last pick of the entire draft because how better to end a draft of all-time Penn Staters than this guy?
Of course, I've got special teams covered with Penn State's all-time leading scorer and all-time leading punter. My weaknesses are clearly offensive line and secondary, but with a true deity on my side, I don't see how my team isn't the best--even if my mission statement wasn't quite fulfilled.
|4||RB||Ki-Jana Carter||QB: Chuck Fusina||DL: Jared Odrick|
|7||DE||Courtney Brown||RB: Curtis Enis||DL: Jimmy Kennedy|
|14||LB||Shane Conlan||RB: Ki-Jana Carter||DL: Anthony Adams|
|17||OL||Steve Wisniewski||WR: Bobby Engram||DL: Courtney Brown|
|24||DB||Michael Zordich Sr.||WR: Bryant Johnson||LB: Shane Conlan|
|27||DT||Jared Odrick||TE: Troy Drayton||LB: Sean Lee|
|34||WR||Bobby Engram||OL: Steve Wisniewski||LB: Andre Collins|
|37||LB||Sean Lee||OL: AQ Shipley||DB: Mike Zordich|
|44||OL||AQ Shipley||OL: Floyd Wedderburn||DB: Rich Gardner|
|47||DT||Jimmy Kennedy||OL: John Urschel|
|54||RB||Curtis Enis||K: Brett Conway|
|57||DB||Rich Gardner||FLEX: Chris Bell||P: Doug Helkowski|
From the GM's Mouth:
I don't mean to brag, but I don't see how my team can be stopped. Let's start with two top-5 NFL Draft picks in the backfield. Ki-Jana Carter was a once-in-a-generation player who was basically unstoppable. Curtis Enis had a heart the size of Beaver Stadium and will wear down any defense. Plus he does it all- run the ball inside and out, blocks and can run any route out of the backfield like a seasoned wideout. Not that this offense would need to pass much, but they have Bobby Engram, a Bilenktoff winner, and Bryant Johnson, a first round pick on the perimeters. When he's not handing off to two stud running backs, Maxwell Award winner Chuck Fusina's precision passing will have no problem getting the ball to the plethora of playmakers. Anchoring the line is the legendary Steven Wisniewski, a stud lineman with a nasty streak like no other. Just imagine the holes Enis and Carter would run through opened up by Rimmington Award-winner AQ Shipley and first-round NFL pick Floyd Wedderburn. Add in physics wiz John Urschel, who could probably teach all of the other lineman how to be in two places at once to make absolutely certain no one will ever lay a finger on Fusina. Troy Drayton provides a great mix of blocking and pass-cathing abilities- the perfect fit for this already loaded offense.
The unblockable Courtney Brown anchors a defensive line brimming with top-notch talent. Next to Brown are first-round NFL draft picks Jared Odrick, Jimmy Kennedy and Anthony Adams. These guys would probably have to pay rent to the opponents for living in their backfields. Behind the stellar line is arguably the greatest linebacker to ever come out of LBU in Shane Conlan, who will line up with fellow All-Americans Andre Collins and Sean Lee. These three would fly all over the field. If the opposing offense managed to produce a hole, it would close in about .00134 seconds. Another greatest-off-all-time at Penn State mans the secondary with Michael Zordich Sr., brining that tenacity and leadership that's become synonymous with the family name. Rich Gardner will help lock down the opposing receivers, not that any quarterback would have time to drop back and make a throw with the front seven of this defense.
If some act of God caused a close game for this team, the ridiculously clutch Brett Conway would be there to bail them out. Although just like the 1994, he'll mainly just need to worry about kicking extra points. Doug Helkowski will want to bring a good book or two with him for each game, as he won't see much action as the punter.
|2||QB||Michael Robinson||QB: Michael Robinson||DL: Mike Reid|
|9||DT||Mike Reid||RB: Curt Warner||DL: Matt Millen|
|12||LB||Dan Connor||RB: Tony Hunt||DL: Aaron Maybin|
|19||DT||Matt Millen||WR: Derrick Williams||DL: Tim Johnson|
|22||OL||Stefen Wisniewski||WR: Derek Moye||LB: Dan Connor|
|29||DB||Darren Perry||TE: Andrew Quarless||LB: Greg Buttle|
|32||DL||Aaron Maybin||OL: Stefen Wisniewski||LB: Brandon Short|
|39||RB||Curt Warner||OL: Matt Stankiewitch||DB: Darren Perry|
|42||LB||Greg Buttle||OL: Keith Conlin||DB: Mark Robinson|
|49||DB||Mark Robinson||OL: Ty Howle||DB: Drew Astorino|
|59||WR||Derrick Williams||FLEX: Jay Paterno||K/P: Anthony Fera|
From the GM's Mouth:
It's all. About. The. Defense. Even in the age of high powered arial attacks and massive scoring lines, everyone knows that defense still wins championships. And of course, every good Penn Stater knows that the key to a championship defense, is the defensive line. Penn State has had some great defensive linemen in the last decade or so, but to find the absolute, most elite linemen to play in a Nittany Lion uniform, one needs to look back a bit further than that. This is exactly what I did to uncover my second and fourth picks overall to anchor what will be an absolutely suffocating defense. Be honest, can you think of a defensive tackle duo that would be more devastating than a Mike Reid/Matt Millen combo? As the only Outland Trophy winner in Penn State history, Mike Reid causes enough damage on his own. Add the 5th leading sack artist in Penn State history in Matt Millen to that line, and I don't care who is lining up on the offensive side of the ball. Not to mention the nonstop motor of Tim Johnson, and the college-version, chaos-causing Aaron Maybin coming off of the edge.
Oh, what happens if the ball does manage to get past the line of scrimmage you ask? No big deal, just a who's who of some of the best pure tacklers in Penn State history. We're not talking about the kind of players who are going to take a bad angle or attempt a flimsy arm tackle. No, we're talking about the all time leading tackles leader at PSU in Dan Connor, the man who picked up 305 tackles in 2 years in Greg Buttle, and yet another First Team All American and Butkus finalist in Brandon Short. Don't think that you can just get away with passing the ball either, because not only will the defensive line force every single pass you do attempt to throw, two of Penn State's best defensive backs of all time are waiting to make you pay in the forms of Darren Perry and Mark Robinson.
On offense, we're running the spread. This will give my first round pick, team captain, and quarterback, Michael Robinson, the chance to use all of the tools that made him such a special college athlete. M-Rob will have the choice to either dash the defense himself for a big gain, hand it off to one of the greatest running backs Penn State has even seen in Curt Warner, or find either the speedy Derrick Williams or the big bodied Derek Moye open in space. Not to mention Andrew Quarless running up the middle of the field to distract any safeties thinking they could cheat up on the line. The offensive line has the extremely unique characteristic of having three different players who can man center. As a result of this, we will constantly be switching up who is hiking the ball, just to add the element of confusion to the equation for the defensive linemen trying to break through.
I would also like to add how difficult it was to not pick Rob Bolden. I'm not ready to let him go yet.
|3||QB||Todd Blackledge||QB: Todd Blackledge||DL: Dave Robinson|
|8||OL||Mike Munchak||RB: Franco Harris||DL: Lou Benfatti|
|13||DE||Tamba Hali||RB: Evan Royster||DL: Jordan Hill|
|18||OL||Levi Brown||WR: Allen Robinson||DL: Tamba Hali|
|23||DB||Neal Smith||WR: Kenny Jackson||LB: NaVorro Bowman|
|28||DB||Alan Zemaitis||TE: Mickey Shuler Sr||LB: Gerald Hodges|
|33||WR||Allen Robinson||OL: Mike Munchak||LB: Dennis Onkotz|
|38||DL||Dave Robinson||OL: Levi Brown||DB: Neal Smith|
|43||LB||Dennis Okotz||OL: Sean Farrell||DB: Alan Zemaitis|
|48||OL||Sean Farrell||OL: Rich Ohrnberger|
|53||LB||NaVorro Bowman||K: Matt Bahr|
|58||LB||Gerald Hodges||FLEX: Mike McQueary||P: John Bruno|
|83||TE||Mickey Shuler Sr|
From the GM's Mouth:
My plan was to draft a team that, offensively, could throw on anyone. This was important on a few levels: I wanted a QB who could throw the ball all over the field, and since I couldn't get Kerry Collins, I went with Blackledge. I wanted to surround him with talented receivers -- which I did, in droves -- and running backs who could catch the ball out of the backfield, something Royster and Harris both did well. I also wanted two RBs who could get me three yards whenever I fed them the ball. Royster and Harris do both of those things well, which is why I took them over some arguably more talented backs. Lastly, my offensive line needed to be able to keep my QB up, give him time to throw, and get a push when necessary. I think I got a group of guys who can do that.
On defense, I want athleticism. I'm a massive #SECSPEED douche, and I have that in droves, especially among my linebackers. Onkotz, Hodges, and Bowman are all incredible athletes with noses for the football who tackle everything in sight. They're also solid in pass defense, and solid pass rushers.
Along my DL, I wanted the same thing. I am lacking at DT, although Benfatti and Hill aren't chumps by any stretch of the imagination, but I love my defensive ends, and think both Hali and Robinson will mix speed, strength, technique, and production at DE.
With my secondary, I wanted two guys who could lock down any receiver I'd face who are adept at snagging interceptions. Zemaitis and Smith were both awesome at forcing turnovers, and could help out in the running game if needed. In the words of Jon Gruden, I like these guys.
My specialists are the best by a mile, and I got Mike McQueary to come in and cover the spread when we're up by a lot. This is over.
Before we let you vote on which team you think would win in our hypothetical, Penn State-only league, we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't make sure you saw what twitter was saying (Scroll in the box).