Outside linebacker: Shane Conlan and Micah Parsons
Inside linebacker: Paul Posluszny
This group is just as good as the starting group, which says a lot about the talent this program has produced at the linebacker position over the years.
As mentioned, Ham got the edge over Shane Conlan, but it wasn’t by much. Conlan also was pretty good at reading the quarterback’s eyes and intercepting passes. His two picks in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl helped clinch Penn State Football its second national title.
An All-American in his own right, there’s a lot of programs out there that would consider Conlan the best linebacker in their history if he played for them.
As for Parsons, is there a recency bias here? Yes, but remember, we’re building this group for 2022 and Parsons is the only guy to play in this era, and he played it well.
Parsons spent just two seasons in Happy Valley, and just one as a starter. In those two years, Parsons recorded 191 total tackles with 18 being for loss and 6.5 sacks. Had the pandemic not occurred, Parsons was on pace to have an incredible junior season in 2020. This guy won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, he’s a beast and should still be considered one of the best Penn State linebackers ever, even if he only played two years. Having Parsons backup Arrington is a cheat code.
Paul Posluszny may be the most debatable one of this list.
He’s a two-time consensus All-American, a two-time Bednarik Award winner and a Butkus Award winner. His 372 career tackles rank second in program history, with only Connor having more. His career may have been more dominant overall than Connor’s, but Connor’s 2007 season was just so good.
Because we’re taking each player at their peak year, Connor in 2007, Ham in 1970 and Arrington in 1999, it makes a little more sense to take Connor over Posluszny. You really can’t go wrong with either, it truly is a coin flip.