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Penn State Football: Conlan Inducted Into College Football Hall of Fame

by on December 10, 2014 12:58 PM

Former Penn State All-America linebacker Shane Conlan, the leader of the Nittany Lions' historic 1985-86 defenses, was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night.

Conlan is the 18th Penn State player to receive college football's hall of fame honor and the 23rd member of the Penn State program  -- five Nittany Lion coaches have also been inducted. The most recent Penn State player so honored was running back Curt Warner in 2009.

"It's a great honor to join all the former Penn State players and all the great players in the College Football Hall of Fame," said Conlan, speaking at the ceremony in New York City. "It's very humbling. The list of nominees was such a distinguished group."

While at Penn State Conlan had a huge role in helping carry the Nittany Lions to a 23-1 mark his last two seasons capped by the 1986 National Championship. A senior co-captain in 1986, Conlan led Penn State to a 14-10 win over No. 1 Miami (Fla.) in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl to capture Penn State's second national title in five seasons.

"The Penn State football family is ecstatic that Shane Conlan will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame," said Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin. "Shane is one of the primary reasons why so many people know about the unrivaled tradition of LinebackerU. Shane was a fierce, tough competitor and leader and we are excited that he is being appropriately recognized for his outstanding career with his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame."

"Having an opportunity to play for two national championships while I was at Penn State was special," said Conlan, who lives in suburban Pittsburgh. "The championship game at the Fiesta Bowl was the best game I ever played in during all my years playing football. My first practice as an 18-year-old freshman and making my first start are other memories that stand out for me."

On the field Conlan led Penn State in tackles during the 1984 and 1986 seasons. He recorded 274 career tackles, which were tied for No. 2 on the Penn State list when his career ended and remain No. 7 on the school's current tackle list. Conlan made 186 career solo hits, which still ranks No. 3 on the school list. (He held the solo tackles record for 20 years).

During his career (regular season games only), Conlan caused 10 fumbles, recovered four fumbles, recorded 16 sacks (minus-148 yards) and had 25 tackles for loss (minus-215 yards). 

Conlan led a Penn State defense that held seven of 11 regular season opponents to 12 points or less in 1985, with 10 of 11 scoring 20 points or less. The Nittany Lions ranked No. 5 nationally in scoring defense at 11.6 ppg. In the 1986 Orange Bowl against the Sooners, Conlan made six solo tackles, with three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery, to earn Defensive Player of the Game honors.

"The 1985 defense might have been better than the one in '86," Conlan recalled. "We all played together for so many years. We were a close, tight team that played for each other. We had great chemistry and liked and respected each other. There weren't any superstars on those teams; just a lot of really good football players that came together."

Other members of the Penn State program enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, located in Atlanta, include ex-coaches Joe Paterno, Hugo Bezdek, Rip Engle, Dick Harlow and Bob Higgins along with former players John Cappelletti, Keith Dorney, Jack Ham, Glenn Killinger, Ted Kwalick, Rich Lucas, Pete Mauthe, Shorty Miller, Lydell Mitchell, Dennis Onkotz, Mike Reid, Glenn Ressler, Dave Robinson, Steve Suhey, Dexter Very, Harry Wilson and Warner.

The other members of the incoming Hall of Fame class include: Dre Bly, North Carolina; Tony Boselli, USC; Dave Butz, Purdue; Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech; John Huard, Maine; Darrin Nelson, Stanford; Willie Roaf, Louisiana Tech; John Sciarra, UCLA; Sterling Sharpe, South Carolina; Leonard Smith, McNeese State; Derrick Thomas, Alabama; LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU; Wesley Walls, Mississippi.

Coaches Mike Bellotti (Chico State and Oregon) and Jerry Moore North Texas, Texas Tech, Appalachian State) also will enter the Hall of Fame with the Class of 2014.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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