Former Penn State Football Stars Who Should Make Big Ten Network’s All-Decade Team
Update, July 2: Star wide receiver Allen Robinson joined Saquon Barkley as the second Nittany Lion to make the Big Ten Network’s All-Decade team.
In just three season in Happy Valley, Robinson totaled 177 catches for 2,479 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was chosen as the Big Ten’s receiver of the year in both 2012 and 2013.
While he wasn’t a highly touted high school recruit coming out of Michigan, BTN’s voters cited his ability to rise to the occasion after a tumultuous 2011 season at Penn State. Robinson joins Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson as the other wide receiver on the conference’s All-Decade team.
Update, 11 a.m.: Saquon Barkley is officially the first Nittany Lion to make the Big Ten Network’s All-Decade team.
Analysts cited Barkley’s electric play-making abilities and incredible Rose Bowl and Big Ten Championship performances as some of the many reasons he earned the honor.
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The Big Ten Network will release its All-Decade teams this week, starting Monday, June 29 and running through Friday, July 3.
Obviously, the first few years of this decade were bumpy for Penn State football, but the Nittany Lions have managed to become a national contender over the course of just a few seasons. Penn State has boasted some incredible teams throughout the decade and brought home a Big Ten Championship, made three New Year’s Six Bowls, and produced 38 NFL Draft picks.
With all of that in mind, here’s which Nittany Lions we think should be featured on BTN’s All-Decade team.
Trace McSorley, Quarterback (2015-2018)
No. 9 might not have the same gaudy numbers as some of the star signal-callers of recent memory, but he should absolutely be considered one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks of this past decade.
Before even considering the numerous clutch plays he made over the course of his Nittany Lion career (read: dime against Iowa), note that McSorley was crucial in helping lead the Nittany Lions back to college football glory.
After inheriting a team that finished with a 7-6 record in 2015 and lost in the TaxSlayer Bowl, McSorley started 40 consecutive games throughout the rest of his career and finished with a 31-9 overall record. Additionally, he left Happy Valley with a school-record 77 passing touchdowns, 11,596 yards of total offense, 10 300-yard passing games, and several other historic accomplishments.
If BTN includes multiple quarterbacks on this squad, McSorley deserves one of those spots.
Saquon Barkley, Running Back (2015-2017)
We’ll throw this pick in the “no shit!” category.
You can’t mention Penn State football’s recent success without thinking of Saquon Barkley. The Big Ten has had plenty of great running backs this past decade, but No. 26 is clearly the best.
In terms of Penn State all-time records, the Coplay, Pennsylvania native is up there for pretty much all of them. Barkley finished his career with 43 rushing touchdowns, 5,538 all-purpose yards, and sits behind just Evan Royster with 3,843 rushing yards. He also managed to rush for at least 1,000 yards in all three of his seasons in Happy Valley.
Barkley has obviously made historic plays for Penn State, but fans of the Big Ten likely won’t forget his dominance anytime soon. His performance at Kinnick Stadium at 2017 in which he put up 358 all-purpose yards (211 rushing, 94 receiving, 53 kick returns) is one that likely stands out for many.
The Penn State legend can be mentioned with some of the best running backs the conference has seen in recent years, including Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot.
Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver (2011-2013)
While Robinson was a part of a bumpy era for Penn State football, there’s no arguing he was a force at wide receiver.
The Michigan native had a quiet freshman season in 2011 but burst onto the scene for Bill O’Brien’s squad in 2012. Robinson hauled in 77 catches worth 1,018 yards and 11 scores as a sophomore during a season in which he was named the Big Ten receiver of the year.
During his third and final season in Happy Valley, Robinson only improved by recording 97 catches for 1,432 yards. He led the conference in receptions and receiving yards during that junior season, after which he entered the 2014 NFL Draft.
Along with all of that, you can’t mention Robinson without noting his 36-yard connection with Christian Hackenberg against Michigan in 2013. That grab was likely one of the loudest moments in Beaver Stadium during the first half of that decade, and helped set up a legendary four-overtime victory over the Wolverines.
Mike Gesicki, Tight End (2014-2017)
The Big Ten has had a lot of good tight ends of late, and Gesicki is clearly one of the best. After a slow start to his career in Happy Valley that included plenty of dropped passes, the big target burst on to the scene as a junior in 2016. He hauled in 48 grabs for a career-high 679 yards during that historic campaign.
While he wasn’t necessarily a classic, gritty Big Ten tight end, Gesicki was clearly dominant during his junior and senior seasons at Penn State. That two-year run included 105 catches for 1,242 yards and 14 touchdowns.
We hope the BTN’s voting panel also considered the big fella’s jumping ability when making their decision.
Carl Nassib, Defensive End (2011-2015)
While Nassib truly stood out for just one season, the former
walk-on run-on’s 2015 campaign was nothing short of spectacular. En route to being named a consensus All-American, winning the Lombardi Award, and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Nassib recorded an absurd 15.5 sacks, along with 46 total tackles.
Sam Ficken, Kicker (2011-2014)
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