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Penn State Football's 2014 Official Roster: 20 Players Remain From Paterno Era

by on February 10, 2014 1:20 AM

By the time the 2014 Penn State football season kicks off, Adrian Amos will be on his fifth head coach.

And his sixth secondary coach.

And his sixth defensive coordinator.

And the senior did it without having to redshirt, transfer or switch sides of the ball. It will have taken all of 30 games (and just one of them a bowl game, at that).

As it is, Amos will be one of only six Nittany Lions to play at least one game under each of these recent Penn State head coaches -- Joe Paterno, Tom Bradley, Bill O’Brien and James Franklin.

The other five? Defensive ends Brad Bars and C.J. Olaniyan, running back Bill Belton, linebacker Mike Hull and safety Ryan Keiser.

Amos is different, even among that group. Let’s assume he appears in Penn State’s 2014 season-opener against Central Florida in Ireland. If so, that will make him the only Nittany Lion player to appear in every Penn State game dating back to Oct. 29, 2011, Paterno’s last as head coach. Over the past two scandal and sanction-saturated years, Amos not only came to play. He played.

The Nittany Lions have been 17-12 during that stretch, seeing both hell and high water. But it says a lot about Amos, an upbeat rec and park major from Baltimore, that during an interview at the tail end of the 2013 season he could still see the brighter side of his Penn State career. So far, that career covers 36 games played and 25 starts, at safety, corner and special teams.

“You know, this is a game I’ve been playing since I was young,” Amos said. “So first and foremost, this game is supposed to be fun. When I’m having fun out there and enjoying myself and just out there playing and knowing my assignments, I can just let it loose in the game and have fun and enjoy playing.”

PATERNO ERA: 20 OF 97

Amos is just one of 20 players on Penn State’s latest 97-man official roster, released on Friday, who played or practiced under Paterno, from the 2010 season through Nov. 9, 2011, when Paterno was fired.

If that number seems small, consider this: When Franklin’s 25 recruits from the Class of 2014 hit the practice field in August, there will be more of his players on the roster than those coached by Paterno. And, in between, there will be a mass of players recruited, signed and coached by O’Brien.

About the 20: Of that group, nine actually saw playing time in the 2011 season under Paterno – Amos, Bars, Belton, Hull, Keiser, Olaniyan, safety Jesse Della Valle, kicker Sam Ficken and running back Zach Zwinak. The other 11 spent the fall of 2011 practicing under the direction of Paterno and his staff: Anthony Alosi, Deion Barnes, Kyle Carter, Miles Dieffenbach, Ben Kline, Angelo Mangiro, Carl Nassib, T.J. Rhattigan, Donovan Smith, Matt Zanellato and Anthony Zettel.

Those are the guys who, when they take the field Aug. 30 in Ireland, will be playing for their fourth PSU head coach (and fifth overall, counting Larry Johnson’s short interim stint in January) -- all in 34 months. Out of those 20 players, just three will have played straight through their college career without taking a redshirt season: Amos, Belton and Ficken.

Finally, here's question for you: Who are the only current Nittany Lions to play in the final Penn State game coached by Paterno, Bradley and O'Brien? Answer: Amos, Belton, Keiser and Hull.

Here's a closer look at the last two recruiting classes of the Paterno Era:

CLASS OF 2010

The Paterno-to-Franklin number might have been higher, but Penn State’s Class of 2010 did not pan out like any of the experts thought. Overall, the Nittany Lions’ recruiting class that February was ranked No. 12 in the nation by Rivals.com. But when all was said and done, nearly a dozen of the 19 scholarshipped Signing Day recruits didn’t stick around at Penn State for four years. Here are the original 2010 scholarship players:

Returning in 2014: Bars, Dieffenbach, Hull, Olaniyan, Zwinak.

Stayed four years: Kyle Baublitz (graduated, will be a teacher), Alex Kenney (grad school at UMass, where will he play football, including a Sept. 20 game at Beaver Stadium), DaQuan Jones (NFL Combine).

Transferred after NCAA sanctions: Khairi Fortt, Cal (invited to NFL Combine); Silas Redd, USC (invited to NFL Combine); Paul Jones, Robert Morris (2013: 122-261, 1,651 yards, 11 int., 15 TD); Kevin Haplea, Florida State (knee injury, redshirted in 2013); Rob Bolden, LSU (dnp 2012, 2013; sr. in 2014).

Transferred before NCAA sanctions: Khamrone Kolb, Fordham; Tom Ricketts, Pitt (quit football); Alex Mateas, UConn (started 13 games at center, 2013).

Quit football after NCAA sanctions, kept scholarship: Luke Graham, Dakota Royer.

Career-ending injury: Evan Hailes (blood-clot).

CLASS OF 2011

Despite the NCAA sanctions and coaching changes, most of the original Class of 2011 (ranked No. 35 at the time by Rivals.com) has stayed committed to Penn State. Eleven of the 15 scholarship recruits are still at PSU, while a 12th – receiver Allen Robinson, who was invited to the NFL Combine – left for what is in front of him moreso than what was behind. Here are the original 2011 scholarship players:

Returning in 2014, with one year of eligibility: Amos, Belton, Ficken.

Returning in 2014, with two years of eligibility: Alosi, Barnes, Carter, Kline, Mangiro, D. Smith, Zanellato, Zettel.

Left Penn State in January for NFL: Robinson.

Transferred after NCAA sanctions: Ryan Nowicki (Illinois, 2012, dnp; Northern Arizona, 6 games, 2013).

Dismissed from team: Shawn Oakman, transferred to Baylor; led Big 12 in tackles for a loss.

Career-ending injury: Jordan Kerner (back).

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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