With the 2010s in the rearview mirror, we're ranking the top-five players at each position of the decade, as voted on by the Roar Lions Roar staff. All of this will lead up to the RLR Team of the Decade. We will only be taking into account seasons from 2010-2019, so players like Evan Royster and Devon Still have solely been judged on their seasons during that time frame.
Despite some rough years in the middle of the decade, the Nittany Lions have seen plenty of talented offensive linemen roll through Happy Valley. Today we highlight the top-five according to our staff.
Honorable Mention - Brendan Mahon
It was easy to forget given some of the other names in the 2013 recruiting class, but Mahon was one of the leaders of a group that would go on to be integral to Penn State's success through the sanctions and after. Mahon started 41 games as a Nittany Lion, and appeared in 46 total, playing both tackle spots during his career. He went undrafted but did play briefly for the Carolina Panthers in 2018.
No. 5 - Ryan Bates
After starting his career on in the inside, Bates truly emerged as a sophomore at left tackle in 2016. He would go on to start 36 games as a Nittany Lion over three seasons, primarily protecting Trace McSorley's blindside. He earned All-Big Ten honors all three seasons before foregoing his final year after the 2018 season. He went undrafted before ultimately signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. During camp, he was dealt to the Buffalo Bills, where he appeared in seven games this past season.
No. 4 - Connor McGovern
One of the centerpieces of a talented 2016 recruiting class, McGovern wasted little time in making his presence known. He would start nine games his first year on campus, and appear in 13 of 14 that season. He started his career at guard before moving to his natural spot at center in 2017. He was back at guard for 12 of 13 games in 2018. That would be his final year as a Nittany Lion, as he entered the NFL Draft. He became a third-round selection by the Dallas Cowboys but missed his rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle.
No. 3 - John Urschel
A fan favorite over his five years in Happy Valley, Urschel embodies the term "student-athlete". While his exploits as a student are noteworthy, including winning the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, the "academic Heisman", his career on the field is impressive in its own right. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in both 2012 and 2013 as a guard and was a fifth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens. He would play 40 games as a professional, including 13 starts, before retiring prior to the 2017 season.
No. 2 - Donovan Smith
Smith arrived at Penn State as one of the most highly sought after recruits in the nation. The prototype left tackle stepped into that spot in Bill O'Brien's first season, and did not relinquish it for the next three years other than due to injury. Another early NFL Draft entry, Smith was chosen No. 34 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014. He was immediately plugged into his familiar left tackle spot and has started 79 games as a professional since then.
No. 1 - Stefen Wisniewski
There are few names more synonymous with Penn State football than "Wisniewski". Stefen's uncle Steve and father Leo both played for the Lions, with the former being one the best offensive linemen in program history. His nephew is not far behind. For the purposes of our rankings, his 2010 season ranks as one of the best ever by a Nittany Lion. He became the program's 95th first-team All-American before being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. His career also took him to Jacksonville and Philadelphia, winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles. He is currently playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Be sure to check out the rest of the series: