Dallastown High School graduate and Penn State linebacker Ben Kline has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2014 Lott IMPACT Trophy.
First created in 2004 and named in honor of former University of Southern California defensive back Ronnie Lott, the IMPACT trophy is given to college football's defensive player of the year. IMPACT is an acronym for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.
Kline, a redshirt junior linebacker, is one of 42 players named to the preseason watch list for the award. Last season with the Nittany Lions, Kline saw action in six games, including two starts. He tallied 18 tackles, nine of them solo tackles. But he battled shoulder and chest injuries all year and missed the last three games of the season after tearing a pectoral muscle in Penn State's 24-10 loss at Minnesota on Nov. 9.
He also missed Penn State's Blue-White scrimmage at Beaver Stadium last month. New Penn State coach James Franklin said during a media session in his visit to Penn State York two weeks that Kline saw limited action in spring drills.
"I'll tell you this. He hasn't done anything athletically since we've got there, but Ben Kline has a presence," Franklin said. "He's a tremendous leader, he's respected unbelievably by his teammates. He's involved with every aspect of community service that you could possibly be involved in. He took a trip down to D.C. (for Rare Disease Awareness Day in the winter), he does everything. Every time I'm on Twitter he's doing something in the community.'"
Kline, a finance major, owns a 3.85 grade-point average and last fall was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District team for the second straight year. He's also the president of the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes, which is a nonprofit organization where college football players help raise awareness of rare diseases.
If healthy this fall, Kline is a candidate to start at outside linebacker for Penn State.
The Lott IPMACT trophy is voted on by members of the national media, previous finalists and the board of directors of the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, a California non-profit corporation. Previous winners include linebacker Manti Te'o (Notre Dame), defensive end J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) and linebacker James Laurinaitis (Ohio State). Watt, now an all-pro in the NFL with the Houston Texans, is the last player from the Big Ten Conference to win the award when he was selected for the trophy after the 2010 season.
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.