Two members of Penn State’s 2007 Outback Bowl title team have signed with National Football League teams on the heels of the five Nittany Lions that were selected in the NFL Draft.
Safety Donnie Johnson signed with the Baltimore Ravens and fullback BranDon Snow signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Their signings brings the total of 2006 Penn State seniors to be drafted or signed to seven, with other signings to be announced. The signings will be announced as the NFL teams make their announcements.
A starter at free safety in every game last season, Johnson ranked fifth on the team with 50 tackles (36 solo). The Cincinnati product also had four tackles for losses, one sack, four pass break-ups and one forced fumble. Johnson was one of the biggest hitters for a Penn State defense that ranked in the Top 15 nationally in rushing (87.5 ypg, 7th), scoring (14.4 ppg, 9th), total defense (284.5 ypg, 15th) and pass efficiency defense (105.9 rating, 14th) and sacks (40, T-sixth).
Johnson played in every game the past four seasons (48 games), starting his career at tailback and wide receiver and being a strong contributor on special teams throughout his career. He recorded three blocked punts in his career, earning Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his block at Michigan State in 2005 that was recovered for a touchdown in the Nittany Lions’ Big Ten title clinching win. Johnson graduated in December 2006.
Snow becomes the fourth former Nittany Lion on the Arizona roster. He joins classmate Levi Brown, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, tight end John Bronson and wide receiver Bryant Johnson.
A product of Newark, Del., Snow was an important and effective member of the offense, serving primarily as a blocking back with occasional opportunities to carry the ball. Playing in 12 games, with three starts last season, he gained 34 yards on 13 carries, led by a career-best 26 yards on six attempts in the 12-0 win at Purdue. A strong and physical player, Snow scored three touchdowns during the 2005 season. He graduated in December 2006.
Five Nittany Lions were selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, increasing the number of Penn Staters that have been drafted under Coach Joe Paterno to 232. After Brown became the 34th Nittany Lion all-time to be selected in the first round, he was joined by All-America linebacker Paul Posluszny (2nd, Buffalo), defensive tackle Jay Alford (3rd, New York Giants), tailback Tony Hunt (3rd, Philadelphia) and linebacker Tim Shaw (5th, Carolina) as NFL draft choices.
There were 29 former Lions on 2006 NFL rosters, placing Penn State 10th nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.
Paterno’s 42nd Penn State team returns 33 letterwinners and 15 starters for the 2007 season, which begins September 1 against Florida International in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions have a blockbuster 2007 home schedule that includes five bowl teams from 2006: Notre Dame (Sept. 8), Iowa (Oct. 6), Wisconsin (Oct. 13- Homecoming), Ohio State (Oct. 27) and Purdue (Nov. 3). A very limited number of season football tickets and club seats are available. For information on 2007 football tickets, call 800-833-5533 or 814-863-1000.
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