UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., February 9, 2012 - The Penn State football team produced another outstanding academic performance during the fall 2011 semester, with 38 squad members earning at least a 3.0 grade point average.
Among the 38 Nittany Lions above a 3.0 GPA, 16 earned Dean's List recognition by posting a 3.5 GPA or higher this past semester.
The superlative academic performance brought to 47 the total number of Penn State football student-athletes with a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA through the fall semester. A total of 38 of the 47 returned for the 2012 spring semester.
Redshirt sophomore guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) posted a perfect 4.0 GPA for the fifth consecutive semester last fall. Urschel brought a 4.0 cumulative GPA into the spring semester and should be a strong candidate in the fall to become Penn State football's 50th CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Among the Nittany Lions joining Urschel on the Dean's List last fall were: linebacker Brad Bars (Nashville), tackle Mike Farrell (Pittsburgh), linebacker Mike Hull (Canonsburg), quarterback Shane McGregor (Ebensburg), center Matt Stankiewitch (Orwigsburg) and linebacker Jamie Van Fleet (Williamsport).
Defensive end Pete Massaro (Newtown Square) earned a 3.91 GPA last fall, but did not take the minimum 12 credit hours required for Dean's List consideration. Massaro graduated in December and joins 2011 pre-season All-Big Ten linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) as graduates on the 2012 squad.
Nine true freshmen earned a 3.0 GPA during the fall semester, led by Dean's List honorees Kevin Blanchard (Katy, Texas) and Ben Kline (York).
Penn State football's other Dean's List student-athletes last fall were: Jesse Della Valle (Pittsburgh), Miles Dieffenbach (Pittsburgh), Brian Friend (Pittsburgh), Andrew Goodman (Philadelphia), Matt Lehman (Newport), J.D. Mason (Philipsburg) and Ryan Scherer (Avon Lake, Ohio).
Massaro earned his degree in finance, posting a 3.85 undergraduate cumulative GPA. Returning to the field after missing 2011 with a knee injury, Massaro and Urschel will be among the Nittany Lions' primary Academic All-America candidates.
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.
- Penn State football was ranked No. 1 in the fifth annual Academic Bowl Championship Series rankings, as determined by New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch;
- 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 (39 first-team) ranks third among all 120 FBS institutions.
- Nineteen 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. A total of 279 Nittany Lions have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors since 1993, including 38 the past two years.
Under the direction of Coach Bill O'Brien, Penn State opens its 126th season on Sept. 1. Ohio State, Wisconsin, Northwestern (Oct. 6-Homecoming), Indiana, Navy, Temple and Ohio will visit Beaver Stadium this fall. For season ticket information, fans should call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets.