Among the 46 players with a 3.0 GPA, 37 will be returning for the 2013 season.
The 46 Nittany Lions with a 3.0 GPA during the spring semester is a significant increase from the 34 football student-athletes who earned a 3.0 during the 2012 spring semester. A total of 47 Nittany Lions earned a 3.0 GPA during the 2012 fall semester.
Five football student-athletes earned a perfect 4.0 GPA during the spring semester, three of whom are returning for the 2013 season: sophomore linebacker Ben Kline (Seven Valleys), freshman fullback Dom Salomone (Dillsburg) and 2012 first-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.). A pair of 2012 seniors, Frank Figueroa and Brian Irvin, also earned a 4.0 GPA in the spring.
Among the 46 high achieving Nittany Lions, 20 earned a 3.5 GPA or higher during the spring semester. A total of 12 Nittany Lions earned Dean's List recognition in the spring by earning at least a 3.5 GPA and passing the minimum 12 credits.
The superlative academic performance by Coach Bill O'Brien's squad brings to 34 the total number of Penn State football student-athletes with a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA who are returning for the 2013 season.
A fifth-year senior this fall, Urschel posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in the spring for the eighth consecutive semester. A 2012 first-team All-Big Ten guard, he earned a master's degree in math in May and is working on a master's in math education. Urschel taught Math 041 to Penn State undergraduate students during the semester, in addition to his academic load and football responsibilities. Urschel will be a primary candidate for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy in the fall as college football's premier student-athlete.
In addition to Kline and Salomone, other returning Nittany Lions who made the Dean's List during the spring semester were: placekicker Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.), tackle Garry Gilliam (Carlisle), safety Ryan Keiser (Selinsgrove), center Wendy Laurent (Hamilton, N.J.), tight end Matt Lehman (Newport), defensive end Carl Nassib (Malvern), safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong (Bronx, N.Y.) and running back Deron Thompson (Lititz).
A total of 13 Nittany Lion freshmen or newcomers during the 2012-13 academic year earned at least a 3.0 GPA during the spring, including: tight end Adam Breneman (Mechanicsburg), quarterback Tyler Ferguson (Bakersfield, Calif.), defensive tackle Brian Gaia (Pasadena, Md.), running back Jack Haffner (State College), linebacker Nyeem Wartman (Philadelphia), Laurent and Salomone.
At least seven members of the 2013 Penn State team will have earned their degree prior to this season, with several others on schedule to graduate in August. The returnees who have already graduated are: Obeng-Agyapong, Urschel, defensive tackle Nate Cadogan (Portsmouth, Ohio), linebacker Glenn Carson (Manahawkin, N.J.), tackle Adam Gress (West Mifflin), center Ty Howle (Wake Forest, N.C.) and safety Malcolm Willis (Marbury, Md.).
Bars and Kline joined Urschel and 2012 senior Pete Massaro on the 2012 CoSIDA Academic All-District team. Massaro earned first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors for the second time.
The outstanding spring 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 football broke its program record for the second consecutive year with an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 91 percent, tied with Rutgers for the No. 7 graduation rate among all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, according to the NCAA in October, 2012. Penn State's GSR was significantly higher than the 68 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern (97) among Big Ten Conference institutions;
- Penn State football student-athletes that enrolled in the University in the fall of 2005 earned a program record Federal graduation rate of 93 percent. Penn State's 93 percent graduation rate was 33 points higher than the 60 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern (95) among Big Ten Conference institutions, according to the NCAA data;
- The Nittany Lions' 17 Academic All-Americans over the past seven years (15 first team selections) leads the nation. Penn State has had a least one first team ESPN Academic All-American in eight of the past nine seasons;
- The Nittany Lions' all-time total of 51 Academic All-America football honorees ranks third among all FBS institutions.
- A program record 28 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 letter winner, bringing the Nittany Lions' total to 308 honorees since 1993.
Penn State returns 16 starters and 38 letter winners for the 2013 campaign. Season tickets are available for the 2013 campaign. The Nittany Lions will host five bowl teams from 2012, including three teams that finished in the BCS Top 25: Michigan (Oct. 12-Homecoming), Nebraska (Nov. 23) and Kent State (Sept. 21). Purdue, Illinois, UCF and Eastern Michigan also will visit Beaver Stadium this fall.
Penn State opens the season Aug. 31 vs. Syracuse in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Nittany Lion Club members can order tickets for the Syracuse game at 1-800-NITTANY or online via their Account Manager.
Source: PSU Athletics