Senior quarterback Anthony Morelli (Pittsburgh) is on the cover of The Sporting News’ regional cover. TSN has Penn State ranked No. 15 in its pre-season Top 25. The magazine ranks the Nittany Lions’ loyal and enthusiastic fans as the best in the Big Ten.
A senior from Wallingford, Pa., Connor also was named pre-season first team All-Big Ten by TSN. Last season, he earned first team All-America honors from The Sporting News and was a second team Associated Press All-American. The former Strath Haven High School standout became the 13th linebacker to earn first team All-America honors at "Linebacker U" under Coach Joe Paterno.
Connor was fifth in the Big Ten with 113 tackles last season and has 274 career stops, 98 away from Paul Posluszny’s school record. He was a finalist for the 2006 Bednarik Award and has been named a candidate for the 2007 Bednarik, Lott and Nagurski honors thus far. Connor should also be among the top candidates for the Butkus and Rotary Lombardi Awards this season.
The Sporting News selected five other Nittany Lions pre-season first or second team All-Big Ten. Junior safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.), a 2006 first team all-conference selection, joined Connor on the first team. Scirrotto, who led the Big Ten with six interceptions last season, is rated the No. 5 strong safety in the nation by TSN.
Earning berths on the all-conference second team were: junior wide receiver Deon Butler (Alexandria, Va.), junior cornerback Justin King (Pittsburgh), junior linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) and junior wide receiver/punt returner Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.). King is rated the top cover cornerback in the Big Ten by TSN and the No. 10 cornerback in the nation.
The Sporting News ranked Penn State’s wide receivers unit No. 2 in the nation, with the linebackers and secondary rated No. 4.
Coach Joe Paterno’s 42nd Penn State team returns 33 letterwinners and 15 starters for the 2007 season, which begins September 1 against Florida International (12:00 p.m., Big Ten Network) in Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions have a blockbuster 2007 home schedule that includes five bowl teams from 2006: Notre Dame (6:00 p.m., ESPN), Iowa (Oct. 6), Wisconsin (Oct. 13- Homecoming, 3:30 p.m., ABC), Ohio State (Oct. 27, 8:00 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) and Purdue (Nov. 3). The Nittany Lions will host Buffalo on Sept. 15 for a 12:00 p.m. kick that will be televised by the Big Ten Network, which launches in August.