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Penn State Football & the Roster of Father-Son Legacies

by on June 17, 2018 11:11 PM

They’re called legacies. Penn State football players whose fathers also played at Penn State.

Like Leonard Humphries and his son Isaiah (pictured here at the Blue-White Game), a new Nittany Lion.

Leonard was a two-year starter at cornerback and had eight interceptions for Penn State in 1990-91. Isaiah enrolled in his dad's alma mater in January and has the makings of a big-league safety.

But for a 1-2 dad-son punch, nothing beats the Pittmans.

Of the nearly 40 father-son pairings that have played for Penn State, it’s nearly impossible to match father Charlie and his son, Tony. As starters for the Nittany Lions, they had a combined 45-0-1 mark.

As a star All-American running back for Penn State, Charlie led the Nittany Lions in rushing for three straight seasons (1967-69), compiling 2,236 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. Tony was an Academic All-American cornerback and in 1993 he had a team-high five picks. In 1994, he helped lead Penn State to a perfect 12-0 mark.

Perfection is what the Pittmans were all about. Both played for Joe Paterno and of the former head coach’s five unbeaten seasons, three of them had a Pittman wearing No. 24.

Why the legacy talk? Because, in honor of Father’s Day, we decided to compile a list of fathers and sons who both played football for Penn State. We limited the list to only fathers and sons, although there were multitudes of multiple brothers who played football at Penn State.

The Humphries aren’t the only Penn State father-son pairing represented in the program. Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith played wide receiver at Penn State and was a 1991 co-captain. His step-son, Justin King, was a stalwart cornerback for the Nittany Lions in the mid-2000s and is now a recruiting assistant, who like Smith works in Lasch Building.

No story about Penn State legacies would be complete without mentioning the stored line of Suheys. Which begins with Bob Higgins. Higgins was a Penn State All-American player who later became head coach. His daughter Ginger married Penn State star Steve Suhey, and they had three sons — Paul, Larry and Matt — who all played for Paterno. Then, so did two of their sons (Paul’s Kevin and Matt’s Joe).

In all, a Higgins or a Suhey has been on Penn State’s roster for 95 of 131 seasons.

The Garritys are also a multi-generational Penn State family. Jim was a Penn State co-captain and his son Gregg made the winning catch in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. Gregg’s son Gregg also played wide receiver for the Nittany Lions.

Speaking of grandfathers…

Current Nittany Lion John Petrishen, a redshirt junior who will press for playing time at safety in 2018, has PSU bloodlines that go way back. His great-grandfather Pop Ellwood lettered for Penn State in 1923 and his great-uncle Bill Ellwood also did in 1937-38.

William Scherer played for Penn State from 1945-49, and his son Rip was a graduate assistant at Penn State in 1974-75. Rip’s son Ryan — and William’s grandson — was a wide receiver and lettered in 2011.

Not all sons of former Nittany Lions greats make it to Happy Valley. The sons of former Penn State stars Todd Rucci, the offensive lineman who played eight years in the NFL, and Bobby Engram, who had over 3,000 yards receiving and 31 TD catches as a Nittany Lion before grabbing 650 more passes for over 7,700 yards in the NFL, are both headed to Wisconsin in 2019. Tight end Hayden Rucci (Lititz, Pa.) is the No.3 recruit in Pennsylvania. Dean Engram is a three-star wide receiver/cornerback from Washington, D.C.

Meantime, Solomon Enis — the son of Curtis, who ran for over 3,200 yards and 36 TDs as a Nittany Lion running back — is headed to the University of Utah this summer. As a high school wide receiver in Phoenix, Ariz., Solomon caught 110 passes for nearly 2,000 yards.


Here is a list of fathers and sons who both played football for Penn State, gleaned from a variety of sources. Seasons they earned a varsity letter, according to the university’s official Penn State Football Yearbook, are in parentheses. Fathers are listed first.

(Not on the list is Jay Paterno, who was a quarterback at Penn State in addition to serving as an assistant coach. Since his dad never played for Penn State, they are not included. Neither are such pairings where the fathers coached and the sons played at Penn State at the same time — such as Larry Johnson and sons L.J. and Tony, and Bob Shoop and son Tyler.)

Ahrenhold — Frank (’69-71) and Tyler (2010). Frank got one of two game balls after PSU’s 1972 Cotton Bowl win over Texas.

Anderson — Dick (’61-63) and Jeff (’91). When Jeff started at PSU, Dick was the Rutgers head coach.

Anderson — Richie (’91-92) and Richy (2013). What a difference an "ie" makes, i.e., dad ran for 1,756 yards and scored a very robust 29 TDs.

Bruno — John C. (’56) and John Jr. (’84-86). Both Brunos wore No. 11; the younger punted 9 times for a 43.4-yard average in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.

Buzin — Rich (’66-67) and Mike (’96, ’98). Rich was a first-team Academic All-American.

Campbell/Pinckney — Bob (’66-68) and step-son Ryan Pinckney (’02). Until 1981, Campbell’s 239 rushing yards vs. Syracuse ranked No. 3 in PSU history.

Delligatti — Dan and Nick. Dan’s dad Jim created the Big Mac; Dan is now a big cheese on the Penn State Board of Trustees.

Ganter — Fran (’68-70) and sons Chris (2002-04) and Jason (2005-07). Fran held every job in PSU football imaginable — except for head coach.

Garrity — Jim (’52-54) and son Gregg Sr. (’80-82); Gregg’s son Gregg (“Pook”). Good hands ran (actually, caught on) in the family.

Guman — Mike (’76-79) and Andrew (2001-04). Mike was versatile on offense, Andrew roamed the secondary.

Hart — Kevin (’76) and Mike (2004-06). Not that Kevin Hart.

Hochberg — Jim (’55) and Jeff (’83). Jim played QB, then was Penn State’s sports medicine coordinator.

Hull — Tom (’71-73) and Mike (2011-14). Tom’s brother John (’70-71) also played at PSU.

Humphries — Leonard (’89-91) and Isaiah. The secondary is primary for these two, who hail from Texas these days.

Johnson — Pete (’67-69) and Tom (2003). Pete was a key part of Penn State’s 22-0 in ’68-69. 

Joyner — Dave (’69-71) and sons Andy (’93-94) and Matt (’96-98). Dave was an All-American wrestler and an A.D. at Penn State. 

Kulka — John (’66-68) and Todd (’95). Todd, the assistant director for football academic support services, is the longest-tenured member of the current Penn State football staff.

Lenda — Ed (’65-66) and Tyler (’99-2002). They were the first father-son combo to win the Red Worrell Award, given to the offense’s most improved offensive player each spring.

Markiewicz — Ron (’56-57) and Joe (’89). Ron was a high school teacher and coach.

Mauti — Rich (’75-76) and sons Patrick (2009) and Michael (2008, ’10-12). All Mautis have always played all-out in all ways.

Pittman — Charlie (’67-69) and Tony (’92-94). Excelled on and off the field.

Rickenbach — Bob (’70-72) and Eric (2000, ’02). Bob played in the WFL and CFL.

Reihner — John (’72, ’74) and Kevin (’15); Kevin was a grad transfer from Stanford; both wore No. 68.

Sandusky —Jerry (’63-66) and E.J. (’91-92) and Jon (’98-99). E.J. was a college coach and Jon an NFL scout.

Schuler —Mickey Sr. (’75-77) and Mickey Jr. (2007-09), Both tight ends, both played in the NFL.

Smith/King — Terry Smith (’88-91) and Justin King (2005-07). A WR as a player, Smith coaches DBs. King played both WR and CB at PSU.

Stupar —Steve (’79) and Nate (2008-11). Nate’s uncles Ron, Doug and Jeff Hostetler all played for Penn State.

Suhey/Higgins — grandfather Bob Higgins (1914-17, ’19) and son-in-law Steve (’42, ’46-47); Steve and sons Paul (’75-79), Larry (’75-76) and Matt (’76-79); Paul and son Kevin (2006-07); Matt and son Joe (2008-11)

Surma — Victor (’68-70) and Vic. Victor’s brother John was a leader of the Board of Trustees when Joe Paterno was fired.

Tomasetti — Rick and Brian. Brian walked-on under Bill O’Brien.

Truitt — Dave (’60) and Greg (’85, ’86-88). Greg was a long snapper who played six years in the NFL.

Warner — Curt (’79-82) and Jonathan. Curt was among the all-time greats at RB; Jonathan was a WR.

Williams — Tom (’73-74) and sons Tom (2001) and Casey (2002-03). Tom’s brother Frank also played for Penn State.

Wise — Tom (’78-80) and Brent (2003-05). Brent is an M.D. and assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Emory.

Wisniewski — Leo (’79-81) and Stefen (2007-10). Leo was a 1981 co-captain. Stefen has a Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl ring.

Zordich — Mike (’82-85) and Michael (2010-12). Both were very gritty players. Alas, Mike coaches the defensive backs at Michigan. 

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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