Posts tagged ‘Derek Wake’

We Are… “Linebacker U”? It Sure Looks That Way

It’s not that Penn State ever stopped producing great linebackers, but enough other schools have turned out really good ones in recent years that some fans and media observers have tried to reassign the Lions’ unofficial title of “Linebacker U.”

Well, enough of that.

On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys’ second-year linebacker Sean Lee ’09 was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month. Through three games, Lee—who wasn’t guaranteed to be a starter this season—was the NFL’s second-leading tackler. Fourth on that list? Another second-year linebacker, Navorro Bowman ’09 of the San Francisco 49ers. This after a 2010 season in which two of the league’s top-three sack leaders were linebackers Tamba Hali ’06 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Cameron (formerly Derek) Wake ’04 of the Miami Dolphins. (In fairness, Hali played defensive end in college, and Wake was something of a “tweener” between ‘backer and end while at Penn State.) And the NFL’s third-leading tackler last season? That was linebacker Paul Posluszny ’06, now of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There are a couple more linebackers among the 31 ex-Nittany Lions on current NFL rosters. You can keep up with all of them with weekly updates on gopsusports.com.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

For Tamba Hali and Cameron Wake, Sacks = Success

This story is a few days old, but I’m posting it today for a couple of reasons — the first is that it’s just a really compelling read. The second is because Tamba Hali ’06 is keeping himself newsworthy. In a good way.

Hali (left) built his reputation at Penn State as a playmaking defensive end, ultimately starring on the Nittany Lions’ 2005 Orange Bowl-winning team. He’s in his fifth season with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he’s become one of the best defensive players in the NFL. More compelling than his on-field play is his backstory, a tale of surviving childhood in war-torn Liberia and never losing the perspective that experience gave him. This Kansas City Star feature does a great job conveying Hali’s focus and determination — including a great bit about how, when his NFL workouts haven’t been sufficiently challenging or intense, he comes back to Penn State to get serious about working hard.

That work has paid off, as Hali goes into this weekend’s games with 11 sacks, putting him among the league leaders. As USA Today notes, that production makes Hali a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Also among the top handful of candidates? Cameron Wake ’04, who has a league-high 14 sacks for the Miami Dolphins. Like Hali, Wake took an unlikely path to NFL stardom. Like Hali, he has emerged as one of the best in the game.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

December 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm Leave a comment


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