Thursday, November 08, 2007

Connor named finalist for Butkus Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; November 8, 2007 – All-America linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford) has been selected a finalist for the 23rd annual Butkus Award®. The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Inc. (DACO) presents the prestigious award to the nation’s top linebacker.

Connor’s selection gives “Linebacker U” a Butkus Award® finalist for the third consecutive year. Two-time All-American Paul Posluszny won the 2005 Butkus Award® and was one of three finalists for the 2006 honor. Former Nittany Lion standout and All-Pro LaVar Arrington won the 1999 Butkus Award®, which is named in honor of Football Hall of Famer, Dick Butkus.

Penn State joins Oklahoma as the only schools to have a Butkus Award finalist three consecutive years over the 23 years of the honor.

A native of Wallingford, Pa., Connor is joined as a finalist by Ohio State junior James Laurinaitis and Colorado senior Jordon Dizon. The winner of the 2007 Butkus Award® will be announced in December in Orlando, Fla.

“This a great honor,” Connor said. “Linebackers grow up hearing about Dick Butkus and what a great player he was and to be a finalist for the Butkus Award is a great honor. My teammates and coaches, especially Coach (Ron) Vanderlinden, deserve all the credit this, and my family, for all their support.”

Connor, who last week became the Nittany Lions’ career tackle leader with 379, previously was named a semifinalist for the 2007 Bednarik Award and the Rotary Lombardi Award and is a candidate for the Nagurski Trophy and Lott Trophy. He was one of three finalists for the 2006 Bednarik Award.

A senior, Connor recorded 11 tackles, with a tackle for loss, in last Saturday’s 26-19 win over Purdue to pass Posluszny (372) and become Penn State’s career tackle leader with 379.

The former Strath Haven High School All-American leads Penn State and is second in the Big Ten with 105 tackles (52 solo) for a 10.5 per game average. He is second on the team and sixth in the Big Ten with 12.0 TFL for minus-52 yards. Connor is second on the team with 5.0 sacks (minus-43). He also has a fumble recovery and six pass break-ups.

Connor made a career-high 18 tackles against Ohio State on Oct. 27, the most by a Nittany Lion since Posluszny had 22 hits at Northwestern in 2005. Connor’s previous high was 16 tackles vs. Northwestern in 2004. He also grabbed an interception in Penn State territory and made one tackle for loss vs. the Buckeyes.
Connor has 18 career double digit tackle games.

In Penn State’s 31-10 throttling of Notre Dame on Sept. 8, Connor recorded a game-high 12 tackles (8 solo) and was selected the Walter Camp Football Foundation's National Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He tallied 2.5 tackles for loss (minus-13), including a sack, and a pass break-up, as the Penn State defense held the Irish to no rushing yards, 144 total yards and nine first downs to the delight of the frenetic White House crowd of 110,078, second-largest in Beaver Stadium history at the time.
The Big Ten honor was the third of Connor’s career.

Coach Joe Paterno’s No. 25 Nittany Lions (7-3) will visit Connor’s hometown this Saturday, playing Temple at 12:00 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field. A crowd approaching 70,000 is expected, as Penn State plays in Philadelphia for the first time since 1994. The game will air on ESPNU, the Penn State Sports Network and, the official website of Penn State Athletics

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