Has Linebacker U. lost its luster?

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Penn State fans can't wait to weigh in on this, so here's your chance.

Todd McShay, director of college football scouting for ESPN Scouts Inc., recently wrote that from an NFL perspective, USC has replaced Penn State as Linebacker U. McShay contends that in recent years, USC has become a better pipeline for pro linebackers than Penn State.

Though the Nittany Lions have a rich history at linebacker stretching back to Jack Ham and others, they haven't produced stars at the same rate as USC and Miami in recent years.

"While several players have followed in Ham's footsteps at Penn State, none has made the same kind of mark in the NFL. So the title 'Linebacker U' doesn't carry a whole lot of weight in NFL scouting circles."

Before you launch a full-fledged keyboard attack, consider that McShay isn't arguing that Penn State hasn't produced elite college linebackers in recent years. It's hard to knock what guys like Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor and even LaVar Arrington did at the college level.

But right now, the NFL features more star 'backers from USC (Keith Rivers, Lofa Tatupu) and Miami (Ray Lewis, Jonathan Vilma) than Penn State.

Ohio State fans probably won't be pleased, either. McShay writes that pro scouts are becoming more cautious about drafting Buckeyes linebackers after high draft picks like Craig Powell and Andy Katzenmoyer never materialized and Bobby Carpenter underperformed.

For what it's worth, Penn State should boast the Big Ten's top linebacking corps this season with Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee, both of whom should project well at the next level.