UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; June 13, 2012 - The Penn State football team produced another outstanding academic performance during the spring 2012 semester, with 34 squad members earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average.
Among the 34 Nittany Lions above a 3.0 GPA, 15 earned Dean's List recognition by posting a 3.5 GPA or higher this past semester.
The superlative academic performance brings to 37 the total number of Penn State football student-athletes with a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA through the spring semester. Thirty-six of the 37 return for the 2012 fall semester.
Four additional Nittany Lions who are not using their fifth-year of eligibility also earned a 3.0 or higher during the spring semester: Andrew Goodman (Philadelphia), J.D. Mason (Philipsburg), Kenny Pollock (Dallas, Pa.) and Ryan Scherer (Avon Lake, Ohio). Goodman earned Dean's List recognition and graduated in May with Mason and Scherer. Pollock is on schedule to graduate in December.
Redshirt junior guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) posted a perfect 4.0 GPA for the sixth consecutive semester and graduated in May, earning his degree in mathematics in three years. He was the student marshal for the mathematics graduates at commencement last month. Urschel is enrolling in a master's degree program in statistics. The team's projected starting right guard coming out of spring practice, Urschel should be a strong candidate in the fall to become Penn State football's 50th CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Also earning 4.0 GPAs during the spring semester were senior tackle Mike Farrell (Pittsburgh) and senior wide receiver Evan Lewis (Gettysburg), who also graduated in May. A minimum 12 credit hours are required for Dean's List consideration.
Among the additional Nittany Lions on the Dean's List last spring were: defensive end Brad Bars (Nashville), cornerback Jess Della Valle (Pittsburgh), linebacker Mike Hull (Canonsburg), linebacker Ben Kline (York), tight end Matt Lehman (Newport) defensive end Pete Massaro (Newtown Square), quarterback Shane McGregor (Ebensburg) and center Matt Stankewitch. Kline earned a 3.94 GPA during the spring semester and brought a 3.92 cumulative GPA in the summer academic sessions.
Five true freshmen earned Dean's List honors during the spring semester: Kevin Blanchard (Katy, Texas), Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.), Carl Nassib (Malvern), Deron Thompson (Lititz) and Kline.
Six returning Penn State football student-athletes have graduated and three more are on schedule to earn their degrees in August. Massaro and linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) graduated in December, 2011. Massaro was a 2010 First-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Lewis, Urschel, Ty Howle (Wake Forest, N.C.) and Matt McGloin (Scranton) were among eight members of last year's squad who graduated in May. Guard DeOn'tae Pannell, joined Goodman, Mason and Scherer, as well as 2010 senior Chris Colasanti, as graduates last month.
The outstanding academic performance is the latest success in a long line of academic achievement for members of the Penn State football program, who consistently are at or near the top nationally in academic success:
- Penn State and Stanford tied for the highest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) among teams ranked in the final 2011 Bowl Championship Series rankings, according to data released in October, 2011 by the NCAA.
- Penn State football student-athletes that enrolled in the University from 2001-04 earned a superlative Graduation Success Rate of 87 percent, tied with Stanford for No. 10 overall among the nation's 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions. Penn State's 87 percent GSR was significantly higher than the 67 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern (94) among Big Ten Conference institutions, according to the NCAA data.
- The Nittany Lions' 15 Academic All-Americans over the past six years (13 first-team selections) leads the nation. Penn State has had a least one first-team ESPN Academic All-American in seven of the past eight seasons;
- The Nittany Lions' all-time total of 49 Academic All-America football players ranks third among all 120 FBS institutions.
- A program record 20 Penn State football student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors last fall for owning at least a 3.0 grade point average and being a letterwinner.
Coach Bill O'Brien's squad returns 36 letterwinners and 10 starters for the upcoming season (5 offense, 4 defense, 1 specialist), as well as 16 players that have starting experience. The 16 additional players wi