by Scott Kindberg
November 6, 1984
Consistency Is Key To Big Success For Conlan
Whether he reaches that level, however, depends on how consistent he is, according to Nittany Lions Head Coach Joe Paterno.
Paterno suggested as much during a press conference Tuesday afternoon prior to Penn State's Football Media Day at Beaver Stadium.
Conlan, a 6-3, 225-pounder, is coming off a season in which he finished second on the team in tackles (77) and led the Nittany Lions with 15 tackles for losses. Those are pretty good numbers considering Penn State played the likes of Texas, Maryland, Alabama, Syracuse, West Virginia, Boston College, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh.
But Paterno, who always seems to get the most out of his players, maintains that Conlan needs to be more consistent.
"He's got outstanding ability. He needs better game presence and he needs a little bit more poise for him to be in the class of some of the linebackers we've had. But there's no question about his physical ability."
But the 1982 Frewsburg Central School graduate modestly shrugged off any praise or comparison to players in the past. And he said he paid no mind to The Sporting News College Football Yearbook that has him listed as a potential All-American.
"I just look at it and throw it down. It doesn't mean anything. I don't think it has put any pressure on me. I just go out and play."
Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky - who has developed seven first-team All-American linebackers and has 12 linebackers currently playing in either the National Football League or the United States Football League - believes in Conlan a great deal.
"Shane has a lot of potential," Sandusky said. "He was a sophomore last year (Conlan was red-shirted his freshman year and still has a year of eligibility remaining after the 1985 season) and he performed very well at times. I think he learned an awful lot last year, which a typical sophomore will do. He can run, he has great speed, he has great acceleration and he can get to the football. Those are his attributes. Anytime you have someone who runs as well as Shane does and practices as hard as he does, he should get to be an outstanding player. And that's what we hope for this year."
Conlan admitted that he was inconsistent at times last season, but he intends to improve in that area this fall.
"Last season I thought I could have played a lot better," Conlan said. "I missed some tackles. I could have had a lot more. I just want to be the best football player I can be. I want to reach my potential. If I have a 100 tackles or 50 tackles, as long as I know I played good that's my main goal."
Said Sandusky, "We're asking an awful lot of Shane. So we have to believe in him to a great extent. What he has to do is a very difficult job. He has to play excellent pass coverage and he has to do some very difficult things in those areas and yet he has to be able to play on a tight end and be able to control the line of scrimmage."
"He has the potential to be one of the outstanding players."
But Conlan refuses to think beyond this season when he has the option to either turn professional should he be drafted or return for a final year at Penn State.
"I haven't even really thought about it or talked it over with my family and coaches," he said. "I'm just going to take this season and then after that, decide then."
Two of Conlan's teammates, co-captains Rogers Alexander and Mike Zordich, an inside linebacker and "Hero" respectively, had words of praise for Conlan.
"He's definitely been a great addition to the team the last two years, including his freshman year when he made a great contribution on the "foreign" team," Alexander said.
Added Zordich, "Shane is a great athlete. Anything he does, he does well. As far as me playing with him, it's been a pleasure because we've become great friends. He's a great competitor."