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Thirteen Nittany Lions Head into NFL Playoffs

Courtesy of GoPSU Sports 

Former Penn Staters begin quest for Super Bowl LIV Saturday

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – As the National Football League playoffs begin this weekend, 13 former Nittany Lions begin their quest to compete for the Super Bowl LIV title. Penn State football players dot the rosters of seven NFL teams, including all four of the Divisional Round teams that earned first-round byes.


A total of 34 Penn State football alumni are populating the rosters of 20 National Football League teams. The Nittany Lions annually are among the top 20 programs nationally in producing players in the NFL.


Among the Nittany Lions on NFL Playoff rosters are: defensive tackle Kevin Givens, kicker Robbie Gould and defensive end Anthony Zettel (49ers); offensive lineman Ryan Bates (Bills); safety Jordan Lucas and offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski (Chiefs); defensive end Shareef Miller and running back Miles Sanders (Eagles); safety Adrian Amos (Packers); defensive tackle Austin Johnson and defensive end DaQuan Jones (Titans) and quarterback Trace McSorley (Ravens). Additionally, defensive end Cameron Wake is on injured reserve with the Titans.


Ryan Bates’ Bills open the playoffs in Houston Saturday at 4:35 p.m. simulcast on ABC and ESPN. They will face a Texans team that has a pair of coaches with Penn State ties on staff, as former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is in his sixth season as Houston’s head coach and football alum D’Anton Lynn serves as the assistant secondary coach. Bates appeared in eight games during his rookie campaign, including the last six. He primarily saw action on special teams, but played significant time on offense in Buffalo’s regular season finale.


Saturday night, the Tennessee Titans host the New England Patriots at 8:15 p.m. with a pair of Nittany Lions on the Titans’ defensive line. Austin Johnson and DaQuan Jones are on their second playoff team with the Titans, although Jones was on injured reserve when Tennessee last reached the postseason in 2017. Jones, who is playing in his sixth NFL season, started all 16 games during the 2019 regular season and made 42 tackles, which trails only his 2015 season (45 tackles). Johnson is in his fourth NFL season and made 23 tackles this year – one shy of his career high – after appearing in all 16 regular season games. Cameron Wake, an 11-year NFL veteran in his first season with the Titans, appeared in nine games before landing on injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury.


Sunday, a pair of rookies look to help the Eagles fly back to the Super Bowl as they take on the Seahawks, starting at 4:40 p.m. on NBC. Running back Miles Sanders shattered Eagles rookie records for rushing yards (818), scrimmage yards (1,327) and total yards (1,614), while Shareef Miller appeared in one game.


All four Divisional Round hosts feature Nittany Lions, starting Saturday at 4:35 p.m. on NBC with a trio of former Nittany Lions on the San Francisco 49ers. Robbie Gould, in his 15th NFL season, makes his fifth playoff appearance and first with the Niners. Gould went 23-for-31 on field goal attempts this season, including game-winners in two of the final three games of the regular season, to help San Francisco claim its first NFC West Division title since 2012. Gould is joined by defensive linemen Kevin Givens, a rookie, and Anthony Zettel, a fifth-year NFL vet. Both made their 2019 debuts in the regular season finale and are on NFL playoff rosters for the first time.


The Saturday night Divisional Round game will be hosted by the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens at 8:15 p.m. on CBS. Quarterback Trace McSorley heads to the playoffs in his inaugural NFL campaign, while former Penn Stater Bobby Engram serves as the team’s tight ends coach. McSorley spent much of the year behind MVP candidate Lamar Jackson and veteran Robert Griffin III on the Ravens’ QB depth chart, but made his NFL debut with a rush in the regular season finale.


Sunday’s Divisional Round action begins at 3:05 p.m. on CBS with the AFC’s West Division Champion and No. 2 seed, the Kansas City Chiefs. Veteran Stefen Wisniewski is appearing in the playoffs for a third consecutive year, as he contributed to the Eagles postseason runs in each of the last two seasons, including the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII Championship. Wisniewski joined the Chiefs mid-season this year, appearing in 11 games and starting the final two of the regular season. He joined Jordan Lucas, who is making his second consecutive playoff appearance with the Chiefs. The fourth-year NFL player made 14 appearances and seven tackles this season, primarily in a special teams role.


The NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers will host at 6:40 p.m. on FOX with Adrian Amos anchoring their secondary. After four seasons with the Bears, Amos signed with the Packers for 2019 and made a career-high 84 tackles, as well as eight pass breakups, two interceptions and a sack. He is making his second consecutive NFL Playoffs appearance.


Super Bowl LII marked the 45th time in the NFL Championship contest’s history that at least one Penn State football alumnus was a member of one of the participating teams, and Super Bowl LIII featured former Penn State men’s lacrosse standout Chris Hogan. In all, 40 different Penn Staters (including Hogan) have claimed 58 Super Bowl rings.

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