Nittany Lion Football Banquet Honors Players For Accomplishments On And Off The Field
Penn State officially put the bow on its regular season with the annual Nittany Lion Football Banquet, which was held Sunday night at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel’s main ballroom. The ceremony allowed the team to reflect on the past season, sharing stories and honoring deserving individuals for their accomplishments throughout the 2015 campaign.
Included among the headlining award recipients were names like Carl Nassib and Christian Hackenberg, who were selected as Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year, respectively. Nassib also received the team’s Most Valuable Player award after leading the nation in both sacks and forced fumbles, while receiving a litany of national accolades in the process.
In addition to individual honors, James Franklin addressed the 2015 senior class to the crowd of more than 700, expressing his gratitude for all they’ve done for the program.
“I can’t express how I feel about these seniors and the impact you’ve had here in the classroom, in the community, and on the football field,” Franklin said. “I can’t express how proud I am of you and how you’ve handled everything with class, honor, and integrity. You guys are going to be remembered 20, 30 years from now about how you stood strong when this program and university needed you the most. The adversity you have faced and overcome has shaped who you are.”
As the night carried on, numerous players — from starters to run-ons — received different awards for their service to the program and community, while some received recognition for their academic endeavors. Players like tight end Dom Salomone and wide receiver Gordon Bentley were honored for their exemplary academic performance, while reserve linebacker and State College native Matthew Baney received a $5,000 scholarship to assist with the cost of graduate school. Scout team standouts like quarterback Tommy Stevens, tight end Nick Bowers, defensive tackle Ryan Monk, and linebacker Brandon Smith took home respective Offensive and Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year awards.
Here is the complete list of award winners:
- Lions’ Pride Outstanding Senior Player Award (greatest career contribution to Penn State Football) — Anthony Zettel
- Most Valuable Player — Carl Nassib
- Most Valuable Offensive Player — Christian Hackenberg
- Most Valuable Defensive Player — Carl Nassib
- Captains’ Award –Christian Hackenberg; Jordan Lucas; Angelo Mangiro; Von Walker, and Anthony Zettel
- Ridge Riley Award (senior for “sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship”) — Trevor Williams
- Richard Maginnis Memorial Award (outstanding offensive lineman) — Angelo Mangiro
- Robert B. Mitinger, Jr. Award (senior who exhibits courage, character and social responsibility) — Angelo Mangiro
- Reid-Robinson Award (outstanding defensive lineman). Named in honor of two of Penn State’s most acclaimed defensive linemen, Dave Robinson and Mike Reid — Austin Johnson
- John Bruno, Jr. Memorial Award (outstanding member of special teams) — Nick Scott
- Iron Lion Award (strength and conditioning). Awarded to the player who demonstrates the cornerstone of the Penn State Football strength and conditioning program — intensity and consistency — Dom Salomone
- Outstanding Run-on Award (Run-on player who exemplifies total commitment, loyalty, hard work and courage) — Jordan Dudas and tackle Albert Hall.
- Quarterback Club Special Awards — Tarow Barney and Kyle Carter
- Football Letterman’s Club Joe and Sue Paterno Post-Graduate Scholarship ($5,000 Scholarship to a senior to provide recognition and financial assistance for graduate school) — Matt Baney
- The Nittany Lion Club Academic Achievement Award (senior with highest GPA) – Dom Salomone
- Highest Academic Average — Gordon Bentley
- Public Service Award — Ben Kline and Matt Zanellato
- Scout team Special Teams Player of the Year — Josh McPhearson
- Scout team Defensive Player of the Year — Ryan Monk and Brandon Smith
- Scout team Offensive Player of the Year — Nick Bowers and Tommy Stevens