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Penn State's Mount Rushmore

2/18/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

It's incredibly difficult to sift through the long and storied history of Penn State football and identify four faces who best symbolize the program. I could create Mount JoePa and include four faces of the iconic head coach over the decades, but that's too easy.

Penn State has produced dozens of standout players, but only one Heisman Trophy winner (John Cappelletti in 1973). There aren't a lot of slam dunk picks with this program. Which linebacker best represents Linebacker U? Who was the best Penn State running back?

I'm sure this list will fill up my inbox with angry e-mails, but here goes.

  • Joe Paterno -- Few people have meant more to a college football program than Paterno has to Penn State. The game's all-time winningest coach will enter his 44th season this fall. He owns two national championships, five perfect seasons and 23 bowl victories. 

  • Jack Ham -- Ham set the groundwork for Linebacker U. with an impressive career as a three-year starter. He recorded 251 career tackles, blocked three punts and was selected to both the college and pro football Halls of Fame. 

  • John Cappelletti -- The running back had the most decorated season in team history when he captured the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award in 1973. Cappelletti won first-team All-America honors and helped Penn State to a perfect 12-0 season. His Heisman Trophy acceptance speech is one of the more memorable moments in Penn State history. 

  • LaVar Arrington -- A unique physical specimen, Arrington was the most exciting defensive player in college football during the late 1990s. A two-time first-team All-American, Arrington won the Bednarik and Butkus awards in 1999. He finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting. 

If it makes you feel better, the final choice was extremely tough. I also considered Curt Warner, Kerry Collins, Lydell Mitchell, Ki-Jana Carter and Paul Posluszny.