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Penn State Graduates Have Starring Roles in Super Bowl

by on February 01, 2014 1:45 PM

When your eyes are glued to the TV this Sunday night, every shot you see will be under the direction of a Penn State graduate.

Rich Russo, who earned a degree in speech communication in 1984, is the lead director of U.S. television coverage of the Super Bowl. This will be Russo's 15th Super Bowl overall, working in various capacities, but mostly as a director. A 10-time Emmy winner, Russo has served as director of two domestic and six international broadcasts of the Super Bowl.

Other alumni on the roster include:

Michael Signora, who earned a journalism degree at Penn State in 1996, is the NFL's vice president of football communications. He is responsible for leading a team of hundreds who will serve as the league's liaison to the thousands of media members from around the world.

He is a past recipient of Penn State's Alumni Achievement Award and the 2013 winner of the 40th annual Jack Horrigan Award, presented by the Professional Football Writers of America.

Michael Robinson, who earned degrees in advertising and journalism in 2004 and 2005, respectively, is a fullback and key special teams player for the Seattle Seahawks. Robinson is a primary blocker for the Seahawks' 1,000-yard rusher, Marshawn Lynch, and has been voted to the Pro Bowl.

Off the field, Robinson is involved in a variety of outlets, including his website, which features a variety of multi-media, to broadcast assignments with ESPN.

Robinson is joined on the Seahawks' roster by rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who earned his degree in recreation, park and tourism management in 2013.

Also among Penn Staters at the game is a group of alumni and students representing the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, housed in the College of Communications. John Affleck, director of the Curley Center and the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, and senior broadcast student Patrick Woo will be credentialed media for the game. They will be filing general and Penn State-specific stories from the Super Bowl that will appear on ComRadio and the Curley Center website.

Two senior communications students, Hannah Biondi and Michael Renahan, and 2012 graduate Ellen McNair will be working for the NFL's media relations team in a variety of capacities. This is McNair's third Super Bowl assisting the NFL. In 2013, she served as the NFL's weeklong PR representative assigned to Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who went on to win the game's MVP trophy. This year, she is working with Denver receiver Wes Welker.

Among the other Penn State alumni working at the Super Bowl are: NFL Network reporter Kimberly Jones, who earned her bachelor's degree in journalism in 1991 and her master's degree in exercise and sport science in 1993; Sports Illustrated reporters Jenny Vrentas, 2006 graduate in science, and Emily Kaplan, 2013 journalism graduate; and New York Daily News assistant sports editor Will Pakutka, 1982 journalism graduate.

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