Penn State Football

Linebacker U Legends: Ranking the Top-5 Penn State Football Linebackers of All-Time

For decades, Penn State Football has been known for its formidable linebackers who have wreaked havoc on opposing offenses.

From the legendary “Linebacker U” era to the modern era, the Nittany Lions have produced a lineage of talented and game-changing linebackers.

In this article, we will delve into the rich history of Penn State linebackers and rank the top-5 players who have made an indelible impact on the program.

Ranking the Top-5 Penn State Football Linebackers of All-Time

No. 5 – Micah Parsons

A true game-changer, Micah Parsons brought a new level of athleticism and explosiveness to the linebacker position during his time at Penn State.

With a rare combination of size, speed, and power, Parsons was a force to be reckoned with on the field. His ability to disrupt plays, deliver bone-jarring hits, and make tackles in the open field set him apart.

Parsons was a consensus All-American and won numerous awards, including the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. His impact on the Nittany Lions’ defense was undeniable, and his dominant performances will be remembered for years to come.


No. 4 – Shane Conlan

Shane Conlan’s impact on the Penn State defense cannot be overstated.

He was a key member of the 1986 National Championship team and earned the distinction of being named the Defensive MVP of the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.

Conlan’s toughness, tenacity, and exceptional instincts allowed him to make game-changing plays.

He was a consensus All-American and played a vital role in Penn State’s defensive success during his time in Happy Valley.

No. 3 – Paul Posluszny

Known for his exceptional football IQ and leadership skills, Paul Posluszny was the heart and soul of Penn State’s defense during his tenure.

A two-time consensus All-American, he was a tackling machine, consistently leading the team in tackles and making crucial stops. Posluszny’s ability to diagnose plays, shed blockers, and make open-field tackles made him a dominant force in the middle of the defense.

He was also a two-time recipient of the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s best defensive player.


No. 2 – LaVar Arrington

A dynamic force on the field, LaVar Arrington showcased incredible athleticism and playmaking ability during his Penn State Football career.

Arrington was a two-time consensus All-American and won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in 1999.

His explosive speed, relentless pursuit of the ball, and bone-crushing hits made him a nightmare for opposing offenses. Arrington’s impact on the field helped propel the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten Championship and a trip to the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.

No. 1 – Jack Ham

Considered one of the greatest linebackers in college football history, Jack Ham’s career at Penn State was nothing short of extraordinary.

A key member of the famed “Linebacker U” era, Ham was a two-time consensus All-American and helped lead the Nittany Lions to an undefeated season in 1968.

He was known for his exceptional instincts, speed, and ability to read plays.

Ham went on to have an outstanding professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he won four Super Bowl titles and earned a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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