Penn State’s 5 Most Recognizable Athletes
Penn State has some of the most famous and historic athletic programs in the nation, which in turn have produced some of the most recognizable athletes. Through statistics, projections, and raw talent, we’ve compiled a list of the most prominent Nittany Lion athletes from this year. The following athletes are listed in alphabetical order, and are limited to one per team.
Casey Bailey, Right Winger
The junior member of Penn State hockey’s top line makes this list based on fantastic statistics. Usually hitting the ice alongside David Goodwin and Taylor Holstrom, Bailey has already set career highs in goals and assists, despite the current season only being about two-thirds done.
He also turned around his plus/minus rating from his sophomore year dramatically. Bailey finished last season as a -21, but currently stands at +8. With 18 goals in 24 games, he is currently tied for third in the nation, and leads Penn State in that category by a mile.
Casey Bailey and Taylor Holstrom are also up for the Hobey Baker Award. So far Holstrom trails most of the pack, but Bailey currently stands at fourth in voting. Continue his strong showing by voting here.
Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback
Likely the most recognizable current Penn State student-athlete, Hackenberg plays the most important position on the football team and will be a sought-after commodity in upcoming NFL Drafts. His statistics certainly dropped off this past season (20/10 TD/INT in his freshman season, 12/15 as a sophomore), but projections say he’s the closest thing to a lock to be a first-round pick.
This fall, with James Franklin at the helm for his second season, Hackenberg should have a better chance to show off his potential. A very young offensive line and receiving corps will return a year more experienced, and coupled with a weak schedule, the upcoming season may just be a perfect storm for the soon-to-be junior.
Micha Hancock, Setter
Hancock concluded one of the most prolific careers in collegiate women’s volleyball this December with her second national championship. The setter from Edmond, Oklahoma led the country in aces per set with an unreal 1.05, while collecting all of the First-Team accolades across four seasons that anyone could ask for.
She had a particularly great day on Dec. 20, which was her graduation day and the National Championship. In front of friends and family in Oklahoma City, the senior led her team with 36 assists and her 126th ace of the year. Her unreal serve tallied a Big Ten and Penn State-record 379 career aces.
The reigning AVCA Player of the Year can make a strong case to be one of the greatest collegiate volleyball players ever, and will always be a source of pride for Penn State faithful.
D.J. Newbill, Guard
The sixth-highest scorer in the nation and arguably the most underrated basketball player in the country is another big name from Penn State’s athletic program.
Onward State’s Noel Purcell wrote the following in the linked article above:
“He’s the superstar on a so-so team that puts the entire roster on his back and carries them to the dance, which has become one of the sacred storylines in college basketball, whether that be Kyle O’Quinn, C.J. McCollum, or Jai Lewis. Newbill has all the makings of a character like that, a player dynamic enough to capture America’s hearts, if only for a few hours. The type of guy who people curse for busting their brackets with a major upset.”
He has as much raw talent as anyone in the league, but unfortunately with the lack of a strong supporting cast, he doesn’t have the opportunity to show off on national television as often as he deserves.
Andrew Wolverton, Goalie
Although his career at Penn State is over, Wolverton made quite a name for himself backing up the men’s soccer team. Named to multiple Big Ten and All-American First and Second teams, he showed that he can play at the next level. Sure enough, the next time he’s seen on the pitch very well may be with the MLS’s L.A. Galaxy.
The four-year starter didn’t leave until his name was all over Penn State’s record books. He set school records for shutouts and goals-against-average, while totaling an overall record of 38-23-8, and is now primed to be one of seven Penn State soccer players to continue their careers in the MLS.
Photo: Bobby Chen/Onward State