Penn State football notes: Hill earns Big Ten honor

gciprian@centredaily.comOctober 23, 2012 

Penn State’s dominance of the Big Ten defensive awards continued Monday when the conference named Jordan Hill its Defensive Player of the Week.

The senior defensive tackle played a major role in last Saturday’s 38-14 victory at Iowa, collecting nine tackles, including two for losses. Hill was one of four Nittany Lions to sack Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg.

The 6-foot-1, 292-pound Hill clogged running lane throughout the game as Penn State held Iowa to a season-low 20 rushing yards on 23 carries. The Hawkeyes didn’t have a run longer than 12 yards. Penn State’s defense also forced three turnovers.

“That’s big for the defense,” Hill said after the game. “It really showed on the scoreboard, making those big momentum plays. Turnovers and sacks are a big momentum shifter and it showed.”

Hill is the fourth Penn State player to earn the award this season. Senior linebacker Michael Mauti has captured the award twice and senior linebacker Gerald Hodges received the honor for his play against Northwestern on Oct. 8.

The conference also named tight end Kyle Carter its freshman of the week. Carter caught six passes for a career-high 85 yards at Iowa.

Carter had a spectacular 34-yard reception over Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde on a fourth-and-3 play in the first quarter. Carter leads Penn State tight ends with 29 catches for 369 yards.

Carter joins defensive end Deion Barnes as the second Nittany Lion freshmen honored by the conference.

On this list

The bypassing of Penn State players on awards lists appears to be ending.

Mauti and Hodges were selected Monday as two of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award. The players survived another round of Butkus Award cuts less than two weeks after being left off the list of quarterfinalists for the Lombardi Award.

The Lombardi Award snub created a stir because of Mauti and Hodges’ role in the Nittany Lions’ recent surge. Mauti leads the Nittany Lions with 65 tackles and three interceptions. Hodges has 54 tackles. The pair is helping Penn State hold opponents to a 15.7 points per game.

The Butkus Award honors the nation’s top linebackers. Other semifinalists include Rutgers’ Steve Beauharnais, Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Illinois’ Jonathan Brown, Michigan State’s Max Bullough, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Oregon’s Dion Jordan, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosley, Stanford’s Trent Murphy and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.

Finalists will be announced Nov. 20.

He’s a fan

Mauti will have a big fan on the opposite sideline Saturday night.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Monday that he tried recruiting Mauti during his tenure at Florida. Mauti, who attended high school in Louisiana, ultimately committed to Penn State because of strong family ties to the school. His brother, Patrick, was on Penn State’s roster when Mauti enrolled in 2008. Mauti’s father, Rich, lettered at Penn State from 1975-76.

“I recruited him hard at Florida,” Meyer said. “Loved him as a high school athlete. He’s a tough guy. He’s a leader. Love his family.”

Follow Guy Cipriano on Twitter @cdtguy.

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