Hours after a CBSsports.com report cited anonymous sources in terming Bill O’Brien as “ready to return to professional football,” the Penn State coach presided over the postseason team awards banquet.
It’d be silly to read too much into the school’s official release about the banquet, which was held Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel and staged by the State College Quarterback Club on Sunday. Almost 750 people attended the event, and reports have come out that O’Brien ended his remarks with “see you next year.” He also, for what it’s worth, definitely said, “We feel good about the future.” O’Brien also was in Hershey watching a PIAA championship game Sunday as part of his recruiting duties.
O’Brien has never been shy about saying that the NFL is the highest level of his given profession and in indicating that anyone would aspire to coach in it someday. He’s also been a man who’s not only preached but has been credited with being extremely honest and upfront. Being so careful with his words perhaps only indicates that – somewhere down the road (whether it is in the near or not-so-near future) – he doesn’t want to close that NFL door.
I reached out to O’Brien’s agent. If/when I hear back, I’ll pass it along.
In the meantime, here were the awards given out Sunday, the day before eight Penn State players were honored by the Big Ten Network and/or ESPN for being all-Big Ten:
- Lions’ Pride Outstanding Senior Player Award (MVP): DT DaQuan Jones.
- Richard Maginnis Memorial Award (outstanding offensive lineman): C Ty Howle and G John Urschel.
- John Bruno, Jr. Memorial Award (outstanding member of special teams): FB Pat Zerbe.
- Ridge Riley Award (senior for “sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship”): OT Garry Gilliam, S/LB Stephen Obeng-Agyapong.
- Robert B. Mitinger, Jr. Award (senior who exhibits courage, character and social responsibility): LB Glenn Carson, OT Eric Shrive and S Malcolm Willis.
- Outstanding Run-on Award (walk-on player who exemplifies total commitment, loyalty, hard work and courage): TE Matt Lehman.
- Reid-Robinson Award (outstanding defensive lineman): Jones.
- Football Letterman’s Club Joe and Sue Paterno Post-Graduate Scholarship ($5,000 Scholarship to a senior to provide recognition and financial assistance for graduate school): DT Kyle Baublitz.
- The Nittany Lion Club Academic Achievement Award (senior with highest GPA): Urschel.
- Quarterback Club Special Award: OT Adam Gress (a West Mifflin alumnus).
- The Iron Lion Award (to the senior who demonstrates the cornerstone of the Penn State Football strength and conditioning program — intensity and consistency): Urschel.
- Alumni Athlete Award: Former WR Rich Mauti (father of former LB Mike, now with the Minnesota Vikings).