Penn State All-American and co-captain Michael Mauti has been named the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Nittany Lion football team.
Mauti was presented the Lions' Pride Outstanding Senior Player Award to highlight the State College Quarterback Club's annual banquet honoring the Nittany Lion football team. A crowd of nearly 1,000 packed the main ballroom at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel Sunday evening to honor 31 seniors and the 2012 squad.
The 31 seniors were instrumental in Coach Bill O'Brien's squad winning eight of its last 10 games after an 0-2 start and earning a 6-2 Big Ten record, capped by a 24-21 overtime win over eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin on Nov. 24.
Mauti is the fourth linebacker to be selected Penn State's Outstanding Senior Player since the award's inception in 1978, joining All-Americans Shane Conlan (1986), Paul Posluszny (2006) and Dan Connor (2007).
On Saturday, Mauti was selected an AT&T ESPN first-team All-American, giving Penn State 11 first-team All-Americans in the past eight years. The former Mandeville High School All-American was selected the Big Ten's 2012 Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and earned first-team all-conference honors by the coaches and media.
A semifinalist for the 2012 Butkus Award, Mauti was the only Big Ten player ranked in the top 10 in the conference in tackles (seventh, 96), interceptions (fourth, three) and forced fumbles (third, three). He also led the Big Ten in interception return yards (125). Mauti had 4.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks (minus 25 yards), three interceptions, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two pass break-ups. He started the initial 11 games, suffering a knee injury in the first quarter vs. Indiana on Nov. 17 that ended his season.
In addition to the player awards (see below), former Nittany Lion All-America linebacker Jack Ham was presented the Alumni Athlete Award. Ham was instrumental in helping Penn State to a 29-3 record from 1968-70, including a pair of 11-0 campaigns. A team co-captain in 1970, Ham earned first-team All-America honors before embarking on a professional career that would see Ham help the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl Championships. Ham is the only Nittany Lion enshrined in the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He has been a member of the Penn State Sports Network's football broadcast team with Steve Jones since 2000.
A trio of awards were presented for the first time:
Coaches' Award, given to the senior that exhibits pride, dedication, commitment and exemplary leadership in addition to outstanding performance: linebacker Gerald Hodges and cornerback Stephon Morris.
Football Letterman's Club Joe and Sue Paterno Post-Graduate Scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship to a senior to provide recognition and financial assistance for graduate school: senior long snapper Emery Etter.
Reid-Robinson Award, given to the outstanding defensive lineman, and named in honor of two of Penn State's most acclaimed defensive linemen, Dave Robinson and Mike Reid: defensive tackle Jordan Hill and defensive end Sean Stanley.
The other 2012 State College Quarterback Club award winners were:
John Bruno, Jr. Memorial Award, given to the outstanding member of special teams: senior running back Derek Day and linebacker Michael Yancich.
Ridge Riley Award, given to a senior for "sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship:" senior defensive end Pete Massaro and senior quarterback Matt McGloin.
Richard Maginnis Memorial Award, given to the outstanding offensive lineman: senior tackle Mike Farrell and senior Matt Stankiewitch.
Robert B. Mitinger, Jr. Award, given to the senior who exhibits courage, character and social responsibility: senior running back Michael Zordich.
Outstanding Run-on Award, given to the run-on player who exemplifies total commitment, loyalty, hard work and courage: senior long snapper Michael Fuhrman and senior tight end J.R. Refice.
The Nittany Lion Club Academic Achievement Award, given to the senior with highest GPA: quarterback Shane McGregor, who has a 3.85 grade-point average.
Quarterback Club Special Awards: Mark Arcidiacono, Joe Baker, P.J. Byers, Cody Castor, Andree Dupree, Jacob Fagnano, Patrick Flanagan, Frank Figueroa, Brian Irvin, Christian Kuntz, Evan Lewis, James Terry, Jamie Van Fleet, Garrett Venuto and Mike Wallace.