Three Nittany Lions Make Pro Football Focus’ Top 101 Players Of The 2010s

Penn State football has created some of the best NFL players from the past decade, according to Pro Football Focus.

In the analytics site’s rankings of the decade’s top 101 players, three Nittany Lions — Cameron Wake, Tamba Hali, and NaVorro Bowman — found their way onto the list.

Coming in at No. 41 on the list is Wake, the highest-ranked Nittany Lion. He finished his career at Penn State with 191 tackles and 8.5 sacks and entered the 2005 NFL Draft. He went undrafted, signed with the New York Giants, and was eventually cut.

Wake took his talents to Canada and played in the Canadian Football League. In 2007, Wake became the first player in CFL history to be named both Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. That was enough to snag the attention of some NFL scouts, leading him to sign with the Miami Dolphins in 2009.

Over his 11-year career with the Dolphins and the Tennessee Titans, he racked up 364 tackles, 100.5 sacks, 99 tackles-for-loss, and 16 forced fumbles. Wake was also selected to five Pro Bowls. PFF describes Wake as “one of the most devastating speed-rushers the league has ever seen, and because his NFL career took some time to get going, the decade captured pretty much the entirety of his elite level of play.”

The next Nittany Lion listed was Bowman at No. 57. From 2007 to 2009, Bowman was a key part of Linebacker U. He finished his collegiate career with 117 tackles, eight sacks, and three interceptions. The San Francisco 49ers selected Bowman in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

From 2010 to 2017, Bowman was a powerhouse linebacker. He finished his eight-year career with 798 tackles, 48 tackles-for-loss, 14 sacks, and five interceptions. He was also named a First-Team All-Pro four times and went to the Pro Bowl three times. PFF describes Bowman as “a dominant inside linebacker and one of the best players in football.”

Last, Hali checks in at No. 78. Although Hali didn’t have a long run in Happy Valley, he did have a memorable one. His 65 total tackles, 17 of them for a loss, and 11 sacks made him a top NFL prospect, resulting in the Kansas City Chiefs selecting him in the first round.

Over the course of the linebacker’s 11-year career, he managed to account for some impressive numbers. He finished his career with 596 tackles, 105 tackles for a loss, 89.5 sacks, 33 forced fumbles, and two interceptions. He made five straight Pro Bowls from 2011 to 2015. PFF describes Hali as, “a consistently productive pass rusher” and “one of the most unstoppable pass rushers in the game.”

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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