Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nittany Lions in the Pros - Tight Ends

Nittany Lions in the Pros continues with a look at the tight ends. I've gone over how TEs have fared recently in the NFL draft, but how have former Penn Staters done at the next level? The position is less utilized in college (no data on that, just an observation). TEs can be considered safety nets for QBs and that is definitely apparent in collegeiate stadiums. Rarely are TEs the main target on a play or in a game plan. They are more important as a blocker and as a last resort for a QB in trouble. This is how it is at Penn State.

It hasn't been a position steeped with much tradition, though we have had our share of solid contributors that made it to the next level. Below is a list of the former Nittany Lion players that appeared in the NFL. Statistics are from 1966 through 2008.

Click to enlarge statistics.

Like I said, solid but no real headline-type player. But how many TEs really are in college? Can you name any real collegiate standouts at the position? Probably not because there are only 10 enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. But wait! One of them is a Penn Stater! Yep, Ted Kwalick is one of only 10 TEs in the CFHOF. Well that's good. Success wasn't as easy to come by in the NFL. Former Penn State TEs have been named to the All Pro First Team only once (Kwalick) and the Pro Bowl just five times (3 for Kwalick; 2 for Mickey Shuler, Sr.). Fourteen Nittany Lions have gone on to play in the NFL and they lasted for a combine 89 years and counting, thanks to Tony Stewart and John Gilmore (Wilson-West Lawn represent!). The group, on average, starts for 50% of their time in the NFL.


Another hard decision. While Kwalick is the university's only All Pro product at TE and accounts for 3/5 of the Pro Bowl appearances, Mickey Shuler, Bob Parsons, and Kyle Brady all have to be in the discussion. Those three players make up 31 of the 43 years of starting experience. However, Parsons spent most of those years as a punter, not a TE. Bye, bye Parsons. So who is it gonna be? There can only be one. Alright I guess I'll, reluctantly, go with Mickey Shuler. Shuler started 108 of the 180 games he played between 1978 and 1991. He accumulated the most catches of the former PSU TEs with 462 for 5100 yards and 37 TDs. He appeared in the Pro Bowl following the 1986 and 1988 seasons. Shuler narrowly edges out Brady and Kwalick.

2009 DRAFT

No former PSU players will be entering this years draft as a tight end.

NEXT WEEK: Running backs. Lenny Moore? Jack Ham? Someone else? Find out next Tuesday.

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