ESPN honors Penn State’s Wisniewski again
• Senior offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski became the first Lions player to be named to the ESPN Academic All-American team for three consecutive seasons. He was joined on the first team by teammates Pete Massaro and Chris Colasanti. Wisniewski, a three-year starter from Central Catholic High School, is enrolled in the prestigious Schreyer Honors College, has a 3.91 grade-point average and will graduate next month after 3 1/2 years. Massaro, a redshirt sophomore defensive end, has a 3.83 GPA in finance. Colasanti, a fifth-year senior linebacker, has a 3.61 in kinesiology/pre-medicine. For the third consecutive season, Penn State leads all schools in the NCAA’s University Division in first-team Academic All-Americans.
• Eight seniors who would have had a fifth year of eligibility in 2011 have decided not to return and will be honored, along with 10 teammates, Saturday on Senior Day. The list includes safety Andrew Dailey, who blocked a punt this past Saturday against Indiana. The others, all reserves, are safeties Tyler Ahrenhold and Kyle Johnson, defensive end Kevion Latham, cornerback Sheldon McCullough, kicker David Soldner, tight end Jonathan Stewart and guard Anthony Tortorelli.
• Center Doug Klopacz, who hurt his ankle against Indiana, is listed as probable for Saturday’s game, but coach Joe Paterno said, “I am not so sure about Klopacz, whether he can make it or not. I would doubt very much that he is going to play, but he is a tough kid and wants to play and doctors said ‘Let’s see how he is.’ ” If Klopacz can’t play, Wisniewski will return to center and John Urschel and DeOn’tae Pannell will compete for Wisniewski’s spot at right guard. Linebacker Michael Mauti (shoulder) is also probable, but Paterno said coaches will closely monitor his progress.
On how the team will celebrate Thanksgiving while preparing to play Michigan State in its final home game Saturday:
“It is hard to do anything special for the team because this is a big game for us. I would like to see our kids go out there and play 60 minutes and walk away feeling we can compete. I don’t know how to do that and give them a complete day off. What we will try to do Thursday is if (the players’) families want to come up, we will open up the training table. All coaches and their families will be there, and I intend to take our family over and have dinner with the squad. We do have a lot of things to be thankful for and, hopefully, we will have as many families together as can make the arrangements.”
On benching players Ollie Ogbu, Devon Still, Chima Okoli and DeOn’tae Pannell for at least half of the Indiana game this past Saturday for being late for the bus and the message he intended to send:
“They got the word. I think the squad got the word. You have a responsibility, not only to yourself, but you have responsibilities to the group. You have 80 guys sitting around (on the bus), waiting while you decide to sashay over later. That is not being considerate. I think we got the message across.”
On the difficulty of players to keep focus with additional free time while classes are suspended for the holiday:
“I don’t particularly like the idea of kids having to miss their holiday, but it gives the kids a chance to catch up academically (with scheduled study halls this week). They have to be careful about staying up (too) late. They can’t be out walking around. They have to stay focused and be ready to play, particularly since we are playing such a good football team as Michigan State.”