2003 Penn State Nittany Lions football
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
2003 record3–9 (1–7 Big Ten)
Head coachJoe Paterno (38th season)
Offensive coordinatorFran Ganter
Defensive coordinatorTom Bradley
Home stadiumBeaver Stadium
(Capacity: 107,282)
← 2002
2004 →
2003 Big Ten football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
#6/7 Michigan   7 1         10 3  
#4/4 Ohio State   6 2         11 2  
#18/19 Purdue   6 2         9 4  
#8/8 Iowa   5 3         10 3  
#20/17 Minnesota   5 3         10 3  
Michigan State   5 3         8 5  
Wisconsin   4 4         7 6  
Northwestern   4 4         6 7  
Penn State   0* 7         0* 9  
Indiana   1 7         2 10  
Illinois   0 8         1 11  
† – BCS representative as champion
‡ – BCS at-large representative

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 classEdit



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

August 303:30 p.m.Temple*ESPN+W 23–10101,553
September 612:00 p.m.Boston College*
  • Beaver Stadium
  • University Park, PA
ABCL 14–27106,445
September 138:00 No. 18 Nebraska*ABCL 10–1878,008
September 201:00 p.m.Kent State*
  • Beaver Stadium
  • University Park, PA
W 32–10102,078
September 2712:00 p.m.No. 24 Minnesota
  • Beaver Stadium
  • University Park, PA (rivalry)
ESPNL 14–20106,735
October 412:00 p.m.Wisconsindagger
  • Beaver Stadium
  • University Park, PA
ESPN+L 23–30107,851
October 113:30 No. 18 PurdueABCL 14–2859,720
October 2512:00 No. 16 IowaABCL 14–2670,397
November 13:30 p.m.No. 8 Ohio State
  • Beaver Stadium
  • University Park, PA (rivalry)
ABCL 20–21108,276
November 812:00 NorthwesternESPN2L 7–1726,188
November 1512:00 p.m.Indiana
  • Beaver Stadium
  • University Park, PA
ESPN+W 52–7106,465
November 2212:00 Michigan StateESPNL 10–4172,119
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Eastern time

The game was not televised but was webcast on


2003 Penn State Nittany Lions football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
WR 1 Golden, TerrellTerrell Golden Fr
QB 3 Ganter, ChrisChris Ganter 10px So
WR 6 Johnson, DonnieDonnie Johnson 10px Fr
QB 7 Mills, ZackZack Mills Jr
RB 8 Kinlaw, RodneyRodney Kinlaw Fr
WR 9 Phillips, TerranceTerrance Phillips 10px So
WR 11 Johnson, TonyTony Johnson Sr
QB 12 Robinson, MichaelMichael Robinson So
WR 13 Palmer, KintaKinta Palmer 10px So
QB 14 Kubic, AndyAndy Kubic 10px Fr
WR 15 Baird, MikeMike Baird 10px So
WR 15 Wise, BrentBrent Wise Fr
WR 16 Corrado, DanDan Corrado Fr
QB 19 Lundquist, TomTom Lundquist 10px So
WR 19 Smith, GeraldGerald Smith 10px Jr
RB 22 Scott, AustinAustin Scott Fr
RB 23 Heffelfinger, AricAric Heffelfinger 10px Fr
RB 24 Hunt, TonyTony Hunt Fr
WR 26 Hannum, JoshJosh Hannum 10px Fr
RB 28 Wilson, ChrisChris Wilson 10px Fr
FB 30 Snow, BranDonBranDon Snow 10px Fr
WR 31 Terrell, ErnieErnie Terrell 10px So
RB 32 Gasparato, MikeMike Gasparato 10px Jr
TE 33 Lukac, MikeMike Lukac 10px Sr
FB 36 Fairchild, BrianBrian Fairchild 10px So
FB 42 McHugh, SeanSean McHugh 10px Sr
RB 42 Upton, RickyRicky Upton 10px Sr
FB 45 Senk, AdamAdam Senk 10px So
OL 52 Iorio, BlaseBlase Iorio Fr
G 53 Roach, SteveSteve Roach 10px Fr
G 54 Davis, ScottScott Davis 10px Jr
OL 57 Albano, NickNick Albano Fr
G 59 Rush, CharlesCharles Rush 10px So
OL 60 Weber, PatickPatick Weber Fr
C 61 Costlow, DavidDavid Costlow 10px Sr
OL 62 Daise, NickNick Daise 10px Fr
OL 63 Mazan, DanDan Mazan Fr
OL 64 Albright, ChadChad Albright Fr
G 65 Price, RobertRobert Price 10px Fr
C 66 Antolick, LanceLance Antolick 10px So
T 67 Brown, LeviLevi Brown 10px Fr
T 68 Wilson, JohnJohn Wilson 10px So
C 70 Marmo, NickNick Marmo 10px Jr
G 71 Farris, MarkMark Farris 10px Fr
T 72 Lispi, LeeLee Lispi Fr
OL 73 Holler, JoelJoel Holler Fr
G 74 Reed, TylerTyler Reed 10px So
T 75 McKelvy, ChrisChris McKelvy Sr
T 76 Jones, DamoneDamone Jones Sr
T 79 Auletta, ChrisChris Auletta Fr
WR 80 Shirley, ScottScott Shirley 10px Sr
TE 81 Smolko, IsaacIsaac Smolko 10px So
WR 81 Stryker, JasonJason Stryker 10px Jr
WR 82 Surma, VicVic Surma 10px Fr
WR 83 Scott, RyanRyan Scott 10px Jr
WR 84 Huff, JamalJamal Huff 10px So
WR 84 Perretta, BrandanBrandan Perretta Fr
TE 88 Kranchick, MattMatt Kranchick 10px Sr
TE 89 Richardson, AndrewAndrew Richardson 10px So
TE 93 Williams, CaseyCasey Williams 10px Sr
TE 98 Pawlikowski, MikeMike Pawlikowski 10px Jr
Pos. # Name Class
CB 1 Phillips, AnwarAnwar Phillips 10px So
LB 2 Toles, DeryckDeryck Toles Sr
DB 4 Ganter, JasonJason Ganter Fr
CB 5 Humphrey, MauriceMaurice Humphrey 10px Fr
S 10 Lowry, CalvinCalvin Lowry 10px So
LB 13 Darling, KevinKevin Darling 10px Fr
S 14 Kanuch, JimJim Kanuch 10px Fr
S 15 Yisrael, YaacovYaacov Yisrael Sr
LB 16 Ryland, AndyAndy Ryland Sr
DE 17 Chisley, LavonLavon Chisley 10px So
S 18 Guman, AndrewAndrew Guman 10px Jr
DB 20 Mills, MarcusMarcus Mills 10px So
LB 20 Shaw, TimTim Shaw So
CB 21 Zemaitis, AlanAlan Zemaitis So
CB 22 Hardy, DarienDarien Hardy Fr
DB 23 Fontana, MattMatt Fontana Fr
CB 24 McCready, NolanNolan McCready 10px Fr
CB 25 Gardner, RichRich Gardner Sr
S 26 Gliatta, VinceVince Gliatta Fr
S 27 Harrell, ChrisChris Harrell Jr
S 29 Cronin, PaulPaul Cronin 10px So
CB 34 Vendemia, GioGio Vendemia 10px So
DB 35 Royse, JohnJohn Royse 10px So
LB 35 Zwierzynski, J.R.J.R. Zwierzynski 10px Fr
LB 38 Mitchell, JimiJimi Mitchell Jr
LB 39 Posluszny, PaulPaul Posluszny Fr
LB 40 Cosby, T.C.T.C. Cosby Jr
DT 41 Paxson, ScottScott Paxson 10px So
DB 43 Taliaferro, AdamAdam Taliaferro Sr
LB 45 Bedics, PatPat Bedics Fr
DB 46 Reese, CurtCurt Reese 10px So
LB 47 Capone, GinoGino Capone Sr
LB 48 Pavelic, MattMatt Pavelic Fr
LB 49 Burton, DorianDorian Burton 10px So
DL 50 Felder, JamelJamel Felder Fr
LB 51 Johnson, TimTim Johnson 10px Jr
DE 54 Purcell, AmaniAmani Purcell Fr
DE 55 Rice, MatthewMatthew Rice 10px So
DL 67 Cheek, RichardRichard Cheek Fr
DT 69 Robinson, JasonJason Robinson 10px Jr
DT 75 Kuzemchak, LeeLee Kuzemchak Fr
DT 85 Alford, JayJay Alford 10px Fr
DE 86 Davis, JeremiahJeremiah Davis Jr
DE 87 Bronson, JohnJohn Bronson 10px Jr
DT 91 Hali, TambaTamba Hali 10px So
DT 92 Johnson, EdEd Johnson 10px Fr
LB 94 Wake, DerekDerek Wake (C) 10px Jr
DL 95 Sothern, MikeMike Sothern Fr
DE 96 Hall, PatrickPatrick Hall 10px Fr
DE 97 Bauer, GregGreg Bauer So
DT 98 Shaw, JohnJohn Shaw Fr
LB 99 Ruhe, SamSam Ruhe Jr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K 4 Gould, RobbieRobbie Gould 10px Jr
P 36 Kapinos, JeremyJeremy Kapinos 10px Fr
K 48 Weltman, NateNate Weltman Fr
P 49 Ream, BrandonBrandon Ream Fr
K 95 Kimball, DavidDavid Kimball Sr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Cruz Roja.svg Injured
  • Redshirt.svg Redshirt

Last update: October 29, 2003

Game summariesEdit


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 CollegeEdit

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 StateEdit

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 StateEdit

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 StateEdit

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 seasonEdit

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 draftEdit

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 gamesEdit

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 alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 "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]Template:Cbignore
  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. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "2003 Academic All-District Football Team". College Sports Information Directors of America. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "2003 All-Big Ten Conference Football Team" (PDF). Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. Archived from the original 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.
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