Senior defensive end Pete Massaro (Newtown Square) and junior guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) earned 2012 first-team Capital One Academic All-America honors, becoming the Nittany Lions' 50th and 51st all-time football honorees.
Penn State and Notre Dame were the only Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) or Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) institutions with two first-team Academic All-America honorees.
The Nittany Lions' all-time total of 51 Academic All-America football honorees ranks third nationally among the 120 FBS institutions. The Nittany Lions' 178 all-time Academic All-Americans for all sports also is third-highest among all NCAA Division I institutions.
Penn State has led, or been tied for first, in first-team Academic All-America selections among FBS institutions in four of the past five years. The Nittany Lions' 17 Academic All-Americans over the past seven seasons (15 first-team) leads the nation. The Penn State football team has had a least one first-team Academic All-American in nine of the past 11 seasons (17 overall selections).
Massaro also was a 2010 first-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American and becomes the 10th Nittany Lion to earn first team Academic All-America honors twice. He joins a distinctive list that includes: John Runnells (1965-66), Harry Hamilton (1982-83), Lance Hamilton (1984-85), Jeff Hartings (1994-95), Paul Posluszny (2005-06), Gerald Cadogan (2007-08), Josh Hull (2008-09), Andrew Pitz (2008-09) and Stefen Wisniewski, the Nittany Lions' only three-time Academic All-American (2008-10).
Massaro graduated in December 2011 with a superlative 3.85 grade point average in finance and is on schedule to earn a second degree, in economics, later this month. The former Marple Newtown High School standout missed the 2011 season with a serious knee injury and was not eligible to be nominated for Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America consideration last year. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Massaro made eight tackles, with one tackle for loss, and 0.5 sacks in nine games missing three contests due to injury.
"It's an awesome feeling," stated Massaro on his second Academic All-America selection. "I actually had this date circled on my calendar. This is one of the things you work for when you are a college student-athlete. It's a fantastic feeling."
Urschel earns his first Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America selection to go with two Academic All-District accolades. A starter in all 12 games this season for Bill O'Brien, the Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year, Urschel graduated in three years with a 4.0 grade-point average in mathematics and is on schedule to earn a master's degree in math in May, 2013.
A 2012 first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, the former Canisius High School standout served as the student marshal for the Penn State math graduates at the Spring 2012 Commencement. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Urschel helped Penn State lead the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference games and rank second in scoring offense (32.6 ppg) and second in pass offense (283.1 ypg) against Big Ten foes this season, while producing a 1,000-yard rusher for the eighth consecutive season.
A mathematics research student, Urschel recently had his first paper accepted for publication. Titled the "Instabilities in the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem," Urschel's paper has been accepted to the journal, Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.
"This is a great honor and I'm very glad I'm able to represent Penn State," said Urschel. "I am very thankful for the professors, advisors, and coaches who have helped me be able to succeed in the classroom and on the football field."
Massaro and Urschel were joined on the 2012 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team by teammates Brad Bars (Nashville, Tenn.) and Ben Kline (Seven Valleys). Penn State's four Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees were tied for the most among all FBS institutions with Duke, Nebraska and Northern Illinois.
In October, NCAA data revealed that the Penn State Football student-athletes earned a program record 91 percent Graduation Success Rate, tied for No. 7 among the nation's FBS institutions.
The Big Ten led all conferences with nine football student-athletes named to the Academic All-America first or second teams, marking the eighth consecutive year the Big Ten has led all FBS conferences in Academic All-Americans.
The Capital One Academic All-District and All-America Teams are selected by the 2,300 members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 on a scale of 4.00.
Source: PSU Athletics