Penn State's Bowman, Hull and Lee solidify Linebacker U's legacy
Penn State linebackers Navorro Bowman, left, Sean Lee, center, and Josh Hull were each selected in the NFL draft.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State enhanced its linebacker legacy in the recent NFL draft.
Sean Lee was selected in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys, Navorro Bowman in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers and Josh Hull in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams.
It marked the first time in 18 years that the Nittany Lions had three linebackers picked in the same draft.
What makes the feat more impressive is that the 1992 draft was 12 rounds -- five rounds longer than this year.
"I am very excited for all those guys," Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said Monday. "They were our top three tacklers last year and meant so much to our program. It's nice to see they will all fulfill their dream of getting a chance to play in the NFL.
"Sean Lee will go down as one of the greatest linebackers to play at Penn State. Navorro Bowman made a lot of great plays for us. And Josh Hull is a special person. He's from right here in Centre County and to accomplish what he did as a former walk-on is a tremendous tribute to him."
Eight times in the past 40 years, at least three Penn State linebackers have been picked in the same NFL draft. That includes a record-tying four in 1970, when the draft was 17 rounds.
Bradley has recruited 10 of the past 23 linebackers chosen by NFL teams. Nine of those were from Western Pennsylvania, including Lee, from Upper St. Clair High School.
He ranks No. 4 in school history with 325 tackles and was happy to be part of Penn State's great linebacker tradition.
"We see it more as an honor, something we take pride in," said Lee, the 55th overall pick of the Cowboys. "We like to work a certain way. We like to play football a certain way. We are hard-nosed, blue-collar types of guys.
"We really take pride in playing that way and passing that leadership down to guys that are coming behind us."
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Penn State has had "a lot of great linebackers come out of there and we think [Sean] has a chance to be one of those."
Bowman, the 91st overall pick of the 49ers, bypassed his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. A two-time All-Big Ten Conference first-team pick, he had his share of off-the-field issues.
He will be a backup inside linebacker and special team's player in San Francisco. As an added bonus, Bowman will be mentored by 49ers coach Mike Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker.
"I know that he's a coach that really instills dedication, hard work and discipline," Bowman said. "I'm glad to have a coach like that at this level. A lot goes on and you lose that type of coaching. I'm glad to have this type of opportunity to play for coach Singletary."
Singletary also is pleased that he will get an opportunity to work with Bowman.
"When you look at this kid on film, a lot of things jump out at you," Singletary said. "He's always going to the football, uses his hands very well and does not spend a lot of time getting locked on linemen and tussling with those guys."
Hull, from nearby Millehim, Pa., was the 254th overall choice of the Rams and the last of six Penn State players to be selected during the three-day, seven-round draft.
As the next-to-last pick, he narrowly avoided being "Mr. Irrelevant."
A two-year starter at middle linebacker, Hull was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this past season while leading the Lions in tackles with 116. He also was a two-time, first-team Academic All-American.
Hull, Lee and Bowman earned their degrees in December. Now the trio is fighting to make their mark in the NFL.
"I've started at the bottom before," Hull said. "I was a walk-on at Penn State and I did everything I needed to do to work myself into the lineup. I'm going to do absolutely everything in my power to make this team."
The 2010 NFL draft marked the first time since 1992 that the Nittany Lions had three linebackers picked in the same draft:
Rd. Linebacker Team
2 Mark D'Onofrio Packers
3 Keith Goganious Bills
8 Andre Powell Dolphins
Rd. Linebacker Team
2 Sean Lee Dallas
3 Navorro Bowman 49ers
7 Josh Hull St. Louis
First Published April 27, 2010 12:00 am