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Penn State has a decorated football program, with two national championships, three Big Ten titles, and numerous bowl appearances. Penn State also has had many great players, many of whom have gone on to have successful careers in the NFL.
The great thing about being a student-athlete at Penn State, or any other college or university, is that one can pursue a college education with transferable skills in addition to participating in a sport that they are passionate about. Many pursue a sports-related degree, such as sports medicine. For more information about a career in sports medicine, click here. Now, here are some famous alumni of the Penn State football program:
- Franco Harris – Franco Harris was an integral part of the Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s that won four Super Bowls. He had more than 12,000 rushing yards and 100 touchdowns during his career, won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1972, was a nine-time selection to the NFL’s Pro Bowl team and was named All-Pro seven times. He is also a member of Pro Football Hall of Fame, receiving that honor in 1990. Franco Harris will likely forever be part of NFL lore for his "Immaculate Reception" against the Oakland Raiders during the 1972 divisional playoff game.
- Jack Ham – While Franco Harris is one of the best NFL players to come out of the Penn State football program, Jack Ham is arguably the best Penn State player on the defensive side of the ball to star in the NFL. Also, a member of the Steelers’ Super Bowl winning teams of the 1970s, Ham was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection as well a six-time first-team All-Pro choice at linebacker. He was included as part of the NFL's 75th Anniversary team and is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1988) and the College Football Hall of Fame (1990).
- Shane Conlan – Shane Conlan had many memorable moments while playing linebacker for Penn State, even helping to give the moniker "Linebacker U" to the linebacker corps as Penn State. Conlan was drafted in the first round by the Buffalo Bills. He was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1987, and was selected three times for both the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro teams. Conlan is also notable for being a member of three of Buffalo's Super Bowl teams and is also a member of the Bills’ 50th Anniversary Team.
- Mike Michalske – Many people may have never heard of Mike Michalske because his career spans back to the 1920s. However, his greatness on the gridiron is indisputable. He was an exceptional offensive guard for Penn State, and went on to have a stellar NFL career with the AFL/NFL New York Yankees and Green Bay Packers. A six-time first-team All-Pro selection, Michalske was the first guard inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also listed as a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1920s.
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