Carson, Gilliam sign NFL rookie free agent contracts

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Former Penn State linebacker Glenn Carson (Manahawkin, N.J.) and offensive tackle Garry Gilliam (Hershey) have signed rookie free agent contracts with National Football League teams from the NFC West. They are the first two of several Nittany Lions expected to officially sign NFL rookie free agent contracts.

Carson signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Gilliam has signed with the Super Bowl XLVIII Champion Seattle Seahawks, where he joins former Nittany Lion standouts Michael Robinson and Jordan Hill.

Carson and Gilliam become the fourth and fifth members of the 2013 Penn State squad to be drafted or signed this spring by NFL teams. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected All-America wide receiver Allen Robinson in the second round of last weekend’s NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans selected DaQuan Jones, a defensive tackle, in the fourth round. The Baltimore Ravens tabbed All-America guard John Urschel in the fifth round.

All three Nittany Lions who were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft were first-team All-Big Ten honorees last fall, with Robinson being named the conference’s Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year for the second consecutive season. Penn State’s three NFL Draft picks were tied for third in the Big Ten.

Penn State has had 36 NFL Draft picks since 2006, including 16 in the first three rounds. Penn State has had at least three NFL Draft picks 16 times since starting Big Ten Conference competition in 1993. A total of 335 Nittany Lions have been selected all-time in the NFL Draft, including 36 in the first round.

A starter in all 24 games the past two seasons, Carson added to the storied tradition of LinebackerU. products by moving into the school top 10 in career tackles during his senior season. An honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media, he led Penn State with 90 tackles last year, ranking 12th in the Big Ten at 7.5 stops per game. The former Southern Regional High School standout was co-recipient of the team’s 2013 Robert B. Mitinger Award.

Carson started 36 career games at middle linebacker and compiled 261 career tackles to grab the No. 10 spot on the Penn State career charts. He posted nine double-digit tackle games, including a career-high 14 at Nebraska in 2012 and 13 vs. Wisconsin in the 2012 overtime victory at Beaver Stadium. His career totals also included 2.0 sacks, 9.0 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. A 2014 East-West Shrine Game participant, Carson was a 2013 team co-captain and graduated in May, 2013.

Gilliam was named the co-recipient of the team’s 2013 Ridge Riley Award, which is presented for excellence in sportsmanship, leadership, scholarship and friendship. He shifted from tight end to offensive tackle prior to 2013 spring practice and added around 30 pounds to his 6-foot-6 frame during off-season workouts. After missing most of the spring with a slight injury, he earned the start at right tackle in the first two games of the 2013 season and started four games overall, playing in all 12.

Gilliam was instrumental in helping Penn State gain at least 350 yards in every game, scoring at least 23 points nine times. He helped Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg throw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns, breaking 12 school freshman and all-time game and season passing records, and Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton combine to rush for 1,792 yards in 2013. Gilliam, a standout at the Milton Hershey School, graduated in December 2013 with degrees in management and advertising/public relations.

There were 26 former Nittany Lions with NFL teams at the end of the 2013 regular season, placing Penn State in the top 15 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.

Super Bowl XLVIII marked the 43rd time in the NFL Championship contest’s 48-game history that at least one Penn State alumnus was a member of one of the participating teams. Former Penn State standouts Jordan Hill and Michael Robinson helped capped off a dominant playoff run for Seattle with a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII when the Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos.
Thirty-seven former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 54 Super Bowl rings.

Penn State returns 41 letterwinners and 15 starters (seven offense, seven defense, one specialist) for the upcoming season and will play a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams this fall. The Nittany Lions will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25, 8 p.m.), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. Penn State will host Akron (Sept. 6), UMass (Sept. 20) and Temple (Nov. 15) during its non-conference slate. The Nittany Lions open the season Aug. 30 vs. UCF in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland.

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Last Updated May 13, 2014