All three played a significant role in helping the Penn State defense rank in the top 15 nationally in rushing (87.5 ypg, 7th), scoring (14.4 ppg, 9th), total defense (284.5 ypg, 164h) and pass efficiency defense (105.9 rating, 14th) and sacks (40, T-sixth). The Nittany Lions allowed only three touchdowns over the final 25 quarters of the season, holding 10 opponents to 17 points or less, including the last seven.
A starter in 41 games during his stellar career, Jay Alford has been a major factor in the success of the nationally ranked Nittany Lion defense the past three seasons. Rated the nations No.4 defensive tackle by The Sporting News entering the season, Alford led Penn State in sacks (8.0-minus 43) and tackles for losses (14.5), ranking sixth in the Big Ten in both categories.A 2006 third team Associated Press All-American, he earned second team all-conference honors for the second consecutive year. The lone returning starter on the D-Line entering the season, Alford is tied for eighth on the Penn State career sack list with 19 and is tied for 14th with 32 career minus yardage plays. A tenacious, smart and hard-working athlete, Alford made 32 tackles (23 solo), forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and had a pass break-up. He earned one of the two Special Awards from the State College Quarterback Club at the teams Senior Banquet. Alford earned his degree integrative arts in December.
Ed Johnson provided a big boost to the defensive line this season. With Alford the lone returning starter for the D-Line, Johnson grabbed ahold of the other starting defensive tackle spot in pre-season and had a productive senior year. The former all-state selection from Crockett Technical High School, Johnson used his size (6-1, 290) and skills to clog the line of scrimmage and help his teammates make plays. A starter in all 12 regular season games, he had 33 tackles (18 solo) and his 8.5 tackles for losses (minus-56) were fourth on the team. An honorable mention all-Big Ten choice, he also recorded five sacks (minus-51), five pass break-ups and forced one fumble. Johnson is on schedule to earn his degree in May 2007.
Johnson was suspended from the program for violating team rules in early December and was not allowed to play in the Outback Bowl. He missed the entire 2005 due to a university suspension.
Tim Shaw made the second position change of his highly productive career during preseason, moving to defensive end after two years as the starting middle linebacker. The quick and versatile player was highly effective starting every game at rush end, With his 6-1, 237-pound frame, Shaw often gave up 60-80 pounds to the offensive linemen he battled, but his relentless, tenacious attitude has helped him excel along the D-Line. Shaw was second on the team and seventh in the Big Ten with seven sacks. The honorable mention All-Big Ten choice was sixth on the squad with 44 tackles (26 solo), was third with seven pass break-ups and had one fumble recovery. The 2001 Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan, Shaw also is a highly respected teammate and accomplished student. He graduated in May 2006 with a degree in management and is working toward a second degree, in telecommunications. He brought a 3.37 grade point average into the fall semester and earned first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® honors, joining teammate Paul Posluszny. Already the only Nittany Lion to receive both the Frank Patrick Total Commitment Award, as well as the Jim OHora Award (most improved defensive player), Shaw added to his trophy case at the teams Senior Banquet. He earned an enthusiastic and heartfelt ovation when he was announced as winner of the Ridge Riley Award, presented to a senior for sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship.