by Scott Kindberg
Shane Conlan Continues To Have A Great Year
Penn State coach Joe Paterno left little doubt Saturday night how he felt about the performance of Shane Conlan in this season of happiness in Happy Valley.
He summed it up in five words- "Shane's had a great year."
So much for inconsistency.
Conlan, a graduate of Frewsburg Central School, came into this season with what Paterno called the physical ability, but not the consistency.
But 11 games- all wins- and one Orange Bowl berth later, Conlan, in Paterno's eyes, has done what he had to do.
"I had much better season than last year," Conlan said following the Nittany Lion's 31-0 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Panthers at Pitt Stadium. "I played with a little more confidence and I was more consistent. But I still can improve in a lot of areas."
Saturday night, Conlan made 11 tackles, according to unofficial Post-Journal statistics, and he and his teammates pressured beleagured Pitt quarterback John Congemi to run for his life.
Lining up from his outside linebacker's spot, the 6-3, 222-pounder had six tackles in the first half and five in the second, despite playing with sore knees. He might have had even more stops, but he was taken out of the game early in the fourth quarter when the Nittany Lions had the game well in hand.
"In the second half, I was slowing down," he said. "That turf was rough. I thought I played all right. It wasn't one of my best games by far."
But Colan has set high standards for himself.
Entering the Pitt game, Conlan was third on the team in tackles (78) and was tied for the team lead in tackles for losses (10).
"I'm a much better football player this year than I was last year," he said. "I watched last years' Pitt film (Penn State lost 31-11) the other day and I saw some of the stupid things I did. I think I'm playing better, but I don't think I've reached my potential as a football player yet."
There are whispers of "All-American" in the air and Conlan hears them, but he's more concerned about other things.
"I think I've played well whether I make it or not," he said. "If I know I've played well, that's what means a lot to me. Whatever happens after that is up to someone else, I guess."
However, Conlan will have a decision to make - with the help of his family and the Penn State coaching staff - about his future.
Conlan, a senior, was red-shirted his freshman year and still has a year of eligibility remaining, if he chooses to take it. There is also the possibility of making himself available for the NFL draft.
A decision might come within a month.
"Maybe the next month or so," Conlan said. "I'll talk to my family, and Coach Paterno wants to talk to me and a bunch of the coaches. Right now, I'm not really sure."
He even hedged a bit when pressed further.
"I'm far from being a great linebacker," he sad. "I don't consider myself the best ever. But in a couple of more years... I don't think I've reached my potential, in other words."
For now, Conlan will relax a bit before preparing for his January 1 date with the Oklahoma Sooners in Miami.
"They have an excellent quarterback and they just run that option great," he said. "I love the option because they're running at me."
Good luck, Oklahoma.
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