2003 Penn State Nittany Lions football team

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2003 Penn State Nittany Lions football
Penn State text logo.svg
Conference Big Ten Conference
2003 record 3–9 (1–7 Big Ten)
Head coach Joe Paterno (38th season)
Offensive coordinator Fran Ganter
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley
Home stadium Beaver Stadium
(Capacity: 107,282)
← 2002
2004 →
2003 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 6 Michigan $   7 1         10 3  
No. 4 Ohio State %   6 2         11 2  
No. 18 Purdue   6 2         9 4  
No. 8 Iowa   5 3         10 3  
No. 20 Minnesota   5 3         10 3  
Michigan State   5 3         8 5  
Wisconsin   4 4         7 6  
Northwestern   4 4         6 7  
Penn State   1 7         3 9  
Indiana   1 7         2 10  
Illinois   0 8         1 11  
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 2003 Penn State Nittany Lions football team represented the Pennsylvania State University in the 2003 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team's head coach was Joe Paterno. It played its home games at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania.


The offense returns five starters, including quarterback Zack Mills, who was on pace for a record-shattering season before injuring his left throwing arm, and with the emergence of Larry Johnson, the Nittany Lions practically stopped throwing the ball. But in addition to losing Johnson, who won the Maxwell Award, the Doak Walker Award, the Walter Camp Award, and finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting, the offensive unit also loses its leading receiver Bryant Johnson and four starters on the offensive line. Top candidates to replace Johnson include junior Mike Gasparato and true freshmen Austin Scott and Tony Hunt. Defensive tackle Levi Brown was moved to left tackle to help shore up the offensive line.

Penn State started the season ranked No. 25 in the Coaches college football preseason poll and was unranked in the AP college football preseason poll.

Recruiting class[edit]


Penn State did not play Big Ten teams Illinois and Michigan this year.

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
August 30 3:30 p.m. Temple* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, Pennsylvania ESPN+ W 23–10   101,553
September 6 12:00 p.m. Boston College* Beaver Stadium • University Park, Pennsylvania ABC L 14–27   106,445
September 13 8:00 p.m. at No. 18 Nebraska* Memorial StadiumLincoln, Nebraska ABC L 10–18   78,008
September 20 1:00 p.m. Kent State* Beaver Stadium • University Park, Pennsylvania W 32–10   102,078
September 27 12:00 p.m. No. 24 Minnesota Beaver Stadium • University Park, Pennsylvania (Rivalry) ESPN L 14–20   106,735
October 4 12:00 p.m. Wisconsindagger Beaver Stadium • University Park, Pennsylvania ESPN+ L 23–30   107,851
October 11 3:30 p.m. at No. 18 Purdue Ross–Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, Indiana ABC L 14–28   59,720
October 25 12:00 p.m. at No. 16 Iowa Kinnick StadiumIowa City, Iowa ABC L 14–26   70,397
November 1 3:30 p.m. No. 8 Ohio State Beaver Stadium • University Park, Pennsylvania (Rivalry) ABC L 20–21   108,276
November 8 12:00 p.m. at Northwestern Ryan FieldEvanston, Illinois ESPN2 L 7–17   26,188
November 15 12:00 p.m. Indiana Beaver Stadium • University Park, Pennsylvania ESPN+ W 52–7   106,465
November 22 12:00 p.m. at Michigan State Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, Michigan (Land Grant Trophy) ESPN L 10–41   72,119
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll. All times are in Eastern Time.

The game was not televised but was webcast on ESPN.com.


2003 Penn State Nittany Lions football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
WR 1 Terrell Golden Fr
QB 3 Chris Ganter Redshirt.svg So
WR 6 Donnie Johnson Redshirt.svg Fr
QB 7 Zack Mills Jr
RB 8 Rodney Kinlaw Fr
WR 9 Terrance Phillips Redshirt.svg So
WR 11 Tony Johnson Sr
QB 12 Michael Robinson So
WR 13 Kinta Palmer Redshirt.svg So
QB 14 Andy Kubic Redshirt.svg Fr
WR 15 Mike Baird Redshirt.svg So
WR 15 Brent Wise Fr
WR 16 Dan Corrado Fr
QB 19 Tom Lundquist Redshirt.svg So
WR 19 Gerald Smith Redshirt.svg Jr
RB 22 Austin Scott Fr
RB 23 Aric Heffelfinger Redshirt.svg Fr
RB 24 Tony Hunt Fr
WR 26 Josh Hannum Redshirt.svg Fr
RB 28 Chris Wilson Redshirt.svg Fr
FB 30 BranDon Snow Redshirt.svg Fr
WR 31 Ernie Terrell Redshirt.svg So
RB 32 Mike Gasparato Redshirt.svg Jr
TE 33 Mike Lukac Redshirt.svg Sr
FB 36 Brian Fairchild Redshirt.svg So
FB 42 Sean McHugh Redshirt.svg Sr
RB 42 Ricky Upton Redshirt.svg Sr
FB 45 Adam Senk Redshirt.svg So
OL 52 Blase Iorio Fr
G 53 Steve Roach Redshirt.svg Fr
G 54 Scott Davis Redshirt.svg Jr
OL 57 Nick Albano Fr
G 59 Charles Rush Redshirt.svg So
OL 60 Patick Weber Fr
C 61 David Costlow Redshirt.svg Sr
OL 62 Nick Daise Redshirt.svg Fr
OL 63 Dan Mazan Fr
OL 64 Chad Albright Fr
G 65 Robert Price Redshirt.svg Fr
C 66 Lance Antolick Redshirt.svg So
T 67 Levi Brown Redshirt.svg Fr
T 68 John Wilson Redshirt.svg So
C 70 Nick Marmo Redshirt.svg Jr
G 71 Mark Farris Redshirt.svg Fr
T 72 Lee Lispi Fr
OL 73 Joel Holler Fr
G 74 Tyler Reed Redshirt.svg So
T 75 Chris McKelvy Sr
T 76 Damone Jones Sr
T 79 Chris Auletta Fr
WR 80 Scott Shirley Redshirt.svg Sr
TE 81 Isaac Smolko Redshirt.svg So
WR 81 Jason Stryker Redshirt.svg Jr
WR 82 Vic Surma Redshirt.svg Fr
WR 83 Ryan Scott Redshirt.svg Jr
WR 84 Jamal Huff Redshirt.svg So
WR 84 Brandan Perretta Fr
TE 88 Matt Kranchick Redshirt.svg Sr
TE 89 Andrew Richardson Redshirt.svg So
TE 93 Casey Williams Redshirt.svg Sr
TE 98 Mike Pawlikowski Redshirt.svg Jr
Pos. # Name Class
CB 1 Anwar Phillips Redshirt.svg So
LB 2 Deryck Toles Sr
DB 4 Jason Ganter Fr
CB 5 Maurice Humphrey Redshirt.svg Fr
S 10 Calvin Lowry Redshirt.svg So
LB 13 Kevin Darling Redshirt.svg Fr
S 14 Jim Kanuch Redshirt.svg Fr
S 15 Yaacov Yisrael Sr
LB 16 Andy Ryland Sr
DE 17 Lavon Chisley Redshirt.svg So
S 18 Andrew Guman Redshirt.svg Jr
DB 20 Marcus Mills Redshirt.svg So
LB 20 Tim Shaw So
CB 21 Alan Zemaitis So
CB 22 Darien Hardy Fr
DB 23 Matt Fontana Fr
CB 24 Nolan McCready Redshirt.svg Fr
CB 25 Rich Gardner Sr
S 26 Vince Gliatta Fr
S 27 Chris Harrell Jr
S 29 Paul Cronin Redshirt.svg So
CB 34 Gio Vendemia Redshirt.svg So
DB 35 John Royse Redshirt.svg So
LB 35 J.R. Zwierzynski Redshirt.svg Fr
LB 38 Jimi Mitchell Jr
LB 39 Paul Posluszny Fr
LB 40 T.C. Cosby Jr
DT 41 Scott Paxson Redshirt.svg So
DB 43 Adam Taliaferro Sr
LB 45 Pat Bedics Fr
DB 46 Curt Reese Redshirt.svg So
LB 47 Gino Capone Sr
LB 48 Matt Pavelic Fr
LB 49 Dorian Burton Redshirt.svg So
DL 50 Jamel Felder Fr
LB 51 Tim Johnson Redshirt.svg Jr
DE 54 Amani Purcell Fr
DE 55 Matthew Rice Redshirt.svg So
DL 67 Richard Cheek Fr
DT 69 Jason Robinson Redshirt.svg Jr
DT 75 Lee Kuzemchak Fr
DT 85 Jay Alford Redshirt.svg Fr
DE 86 Jeremiah Davis Jr
DE 87 John Bronson Redshirt.svg Jr
DT 91 Tamba Hali Redshirt.svg So
DT 92 Ed Johnson Redshirt.svg Fr
LB 94 Derek Wake (C) Redshirt.svg Jr
DL 95 Mike Sothern Fr
DE 96 Patrick Hall Redshirt.svg Fr
DE 97 Greg Bauer So
DT 98 John Shaw Fr
LB 99 Sam Ruhe Jr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K 4 Robbie Gould Redshirt.svg Jr
P 36 Jeremy Kapinos Redshirt.svg Fr
K 48 Nate Weltman Fr
P 49 Brandon Ream Fr
K 95 David Kimball Sr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured Injured
  • Redshirt Redshirt

Last update: October 29, 2003

Game summaries[edit]


1 2 3 4 Total
Temple 0 3 0 7 10
Penn State 0 7 6 10 23

Penn State played four tailbacks to beat the Owls 23–10. Zack Mills was 7 of 16 for 79 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Michael Robinson, who started at tailback, led the team with 84 yards rushing. True freshman Austin Scott was next with 69 yards on a team-high 12 carries. Fifth-year senior Ricky Upton had 19 yards on four carries, and true freshman Tony Hunt had 12 yards on three carries. This would be the only game of 2003 in which Penn State never once trailed.

Boston College[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Boston College 21 3 3 0 27
Penn State 0 7 0 7 14

The Boston College Eagles jumped out to an early lead against a flat Penn State team, as the Eagles won 27–14. The Eagles went up 21–0 with 7:50 left in the first quarter, amassing 206 of its 383 total yards by the end of the first quarter. Zack Mills was 15 of 28 for 144 yards but was benched in favor of Michael Robinson in the third quarter. Robinson led the Lions to a touchdown but going only 4 of 11 for 41 yards. Penn State was inside the Boston College 30 five times and came away with only 14 points.


1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 0 10 0 0 10
Nebraska 3 6 6 3 18

The Cornhuskers running game dominated Penn State, as the Huskers won 18–10. Nebraska rushed for 337 yards on 72 carries and held the ball twice as long as Penn State, who managed only 44 yards on 21 carries.

Kent State[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Kent State 10 0 0 0 10
Penn State 7 10 12 3 32

Austin Scott made his first career start as Penn State erased a 10-point deficit to beat the Golden Flashes 32–10. Scott rushed for 100 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns. Fullback Sean McHugh added 49 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman cornerback Maurice Humphrey made his first appearance at receiver and produced three receptions for 37 yards. Michael Robinson was used strictly as a quarterback, finishing 2 of 9 for 29 yards, alternating with Zack Mills who finished 10 of 20 for 99 yards.


1 2 3 4 Total
Minnesota 14 3 0 3 20
Penn State 0 14 0 0 14

Michael Robinson got his first significant playing time under center, in relief of an injured Zack Mills whose left knee was sprained in the second quarter and did not return, but it wasn't enough to beat the Golden Gophers as the Lions lost 20–14. Robinson finished 16 of 27 for 178 yards but with two interceptions. He also had 42 yards rushing on 12 carries and a touchdown.


1 2 3 4 Total
Wisconsin 7 10 6 7 30
Penn State 3 6 7 7 23

Penn State's special teams broke down as the Badgers won 30–23. The Lions special teams allowed a punt returned for a touchdown, fumbled a punt that led to another touchdown, had two missed field goals and a missed extra point. The defense couldn't stop Wisconsin's running game, allowing 234 yards on the ground, 119 from Wisconsin's third-stringer Booker Stanley. Overshadowed was Michael Robinson's superb performance in his first start at quarterback. Robinson finished 22 of 43 for 379 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 379 passing yards ranked second on Penn State's all-time list at the time.


1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 0 14 0 0 14
Purdue 7 10 3 8 28

The Boilermakers defense held the Penn State offense to only 204 total yards as Purdue won 28–14. Michael Robinson, starting at quarterback for the second straight week, was held to only 98 yards passing on 10 of 32 attempts. Purdue, known mostly as a passing team, rushed for 234 yards, compared to Penn State's 125 yards rushing. Tony Hunt led the team with 47 yards on nine carries.


1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 7 0 7 0 14
Iowa 0 12 14 0 26

The Hawkeyes defense dominated the Penn State offense as Iowa goes on to win 26–14. The Lions led after the first quarter when safety Yaacov Yisrael returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown. Penn State and starting quarterback Michael Robinson started their first three possessions in Iowa territory but couldn't move the ball and had a fumble returned that set up Iowa's first touchdown. Robinson was replaced by Zack Mills, who went 14 of 25 for 138 yards and a touchdown in the final three quarters, but the team failed to mount a serious comeback.

Ohio State[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Ohio State 7 0 7 7 21
Penn State 7 10 0 3 20

Zack Mills regained the starting position, but it wasn't enough as the Buckeyes defeated the Lions 21–20. Mills was 27 of 43 for 253 yards, becoming the school's all-time leader in completions with 406, passing Tony Sacca. He also moved past Todd Blackledge into fourth place in passing yards with 4,973. Mills also moved into second place in total offense with 5,482 yards. Converted cornerback Maurice Humphrey had seven receptions for 64 yards, and little-used Terrance Phillips had his first career reception and finished with two catches for 47 yards. On defense, Alan Zemaitis returned an interception 78 yards for a touchdown. Kickoff specialist David Kimball made the first field goal of his career, replacing Robbie Gould in all kicking roles.


1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 0 7 0 0 7
Northwestern 0 0 0 17 17

The Nittany Lions, in control most of the game, couldn't hold off the Wildcats as the Wildcats scored 17 points in the final seven minutes to win 17–7. Zack Mills finished 22 of 36 for 230 yards passing and an interception but also rushed for Penn State's lone score. Maurice Humphrey led Penn State with eight receptions for 97 yards but dropped two passes including one that would have been a touchdown. Michael Robinson started at tailback and finished with 15 rushes for 47 yards, five receptions for 55 yards, and was 1 for 1 for 11 yards passing. Fullback Sean McHugh led the team in rushing with 79 yards on 10 carries.

The defense forced three Wildcat turnovers. Paul Posluszny made eight tackles, including one for a loss and a crucial stop on fourth-and-1. Yaacov Yisrael led the Lions with 15 tackles forced a fumble.


1 2 3 4 Total
Indiana 7 0 0 0 7
Penn State 14 7 31 0 52

On senior day Penn State scored on offense, defense, and special teams, as they rolled over the Hoosiers 52–7. After the Hoosiers jumped to a 7–0 lead, Penn State piled on 52 unanswered points. Zack Mills was 12 of 19 for 173 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Michael Robinson started at tailback and rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown. Robinson was also 2 of 3 passing for 87 yards and a touchdown. Senior Tony Johnson had three receptions, all for touchdowns, totaling 47 yards.

On special teams, Robbie Gould kicked a 37-yard field goal. Yaacov Yisrael also blocked a punt, that Andrew Guman recovered and returned seven yards for a touchdown. Linebacker Paul Posluszny also returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown.

Michigan State[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 3 0 0 7 10
Michigan State 7 14 7 13 41

Robbie Gould gave the Lions a 3–0 lead, but it was all Michigan State Spartans after that en route to a 41–10 victory over the Nittany Lions. The Lions defense could not stop the Spartans, as Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker completed 29 of 50 for 357 yards and four touchdowns. Zack Mills finished 11 of 24 for 114 yards, becoming Penn State's career leader in total offense and also moved into second place on the school's passing yardage list.




  • Dave Costlow
    Second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American[4]
    First-team CoSIDA Academic All-District[5]
  • Gino Capone
    First-team CoSIDA Academic All-District[5]
  • Michael Robinson
    Second-team CoSIDA Academic All-District[5]
  • Gio Vendemia
    Second-team CoSIDA Academic All-District[5]
  • Yaacov Yisrael
    Second-team All-Big Ten (conference coaches selection)[6]
  • Alan Zemaitis
    Second-team All-Big Ten (conference media selection)[6]

Post season[edit]

Penn State finished the season with a 3–9 record, 1–7 in the Big Ten, Paterno's worst ever at Penn State. It was the third losing season in the past four, and only Paterno's fourth losing season since joining the coaching staff in 1950. Nine losses were the most ever for a Penn State team, breaking the record set by the 1931 2–8 team. The season ended without any wins in road games, which hadn't occurred since 1936.

Despite the losing record, Penn State claimed second place in football attendance for the third consecutive season, averaging 105,629 through seven home games, ranking in the top four for the 13th consecutive year. The Ohio State game drew Penn State's largest home crowd of 108,276, the seventh largest crowd ever in Beaver Stadium.[7]

The team's second-leading receiver Maurice Humphrey, after a promising season at wide receiver was expelled from school and convicted of three counts of simple assault. Humphrey would not play another down for Penn State.

NFL draft[edit]

Four Nittany Lions were drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Round Pick Overall Name Position Team
3rd 29 92 Rich Gardner Cornerback Tennessee Titans
6th 29 194 Matt Kranchick Tight end Pittsburgh Steelers
7th 28 229 David Kimball Placekicker Indianapolis Colts
7th 40 241 Sean McHugh Tight end Tennessee Titans

All-star games[edit]

Game Date Site Players
65th Blue–Gray Football Classic December 25, 2003 Veterans Stadium, Troy, Alabama Tony Johnson, Matt Kranchick, Chris McKelvy, Deryck Toles
58th Hula Bowl January 17, 2004 War Memorial Stadium, Wailuku, Hawaii Gino Capone, Yaacov Yisrael
1st Las Vegas All-American Classic January 17, 2004 Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada Dave Costlow, Sean McHugh
55th Senior Bowl January 24, 2004 Ladd–Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama Rich Gardner
6th Gridiron Classic January 31, 2004 The Villages Polo Stadium, The Villages, Florida Deryck Toles

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Capone and Wake named to Butkus Award Watch List". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. August 21, 2003. Archived from the original on April 26, 2005. Retrieved January 23, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Penn State's Gould named to Lou Groza Award Watch List". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. August 6, 2003. Retrieved January 23, 2007. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Quarterback Zack Mills Named To Davey O'Brien Award Watch List For Third Time". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. July 29, 2003. Archived from the original on April 26, 2005. Retrieved January 23, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Dave Costlow Selected To Academic All-America Football Team". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. December 1, 2003. Archived from the original on August 19, 2004. Retrieved January 23, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c d "2003 Academic All-District Football Team" (PDF). College Sports Information Directors of America. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b "2003 All-Big Ten Conference Football Team" (PDF). Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 15, 2007. Retrieved January 23, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Penn State again ranks second in NCAA football attendance". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. February 12, 2004. Archived from the original on May 3, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2007.