Few players in Penn State history have been as good as LaVar Arrington.
The linebacker from North Hills High School in the Pittsburgh area was a Bednarik (Defensive Player of the Year) and Butkus (Linebacker of the Year) award winner at PSU and became the second overall pick of the 2000 draft when Washington took him.
The College Football Hall of Famer was no slouch in the NFL, either, making a pair of All-Pro teams.
He’s remained involved with Penn State, being on the sideline for last season’s Rose Bowl win over Utah.
This past Saturday, Arrington was back in Beaver Stadium to watch Penn State pound Delaware, 63-7. Before that, he was at Penn State’s baseball stadium, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, for a Tailgate/Meet & Greet sponsored in part by Penn State’s NIL collective, Happy Valley United.
NSN caught up with Arrington and asked him about Penn State’s NIL initiative and more.
Nittany Sports Now: LaVar you’re here with a meet & greet session, how has that been going today and this was obviously part of NIL, how have things been with Happy Valley United so far?
LaVar Arrington: So working with Happy Valley United to grow the presence and the awareness of how our fanbase, our alumni, our community, and get involved and exercise their ability to help build what we have going on, it’s as great a time as any now for our general fanbase to get involved. So this is something that I’m pretty knowledgeable about and have really built a business in branding and name, image and likeness value building, and so, this was a no-brainer for me to be able to work with Happy Valley United, help out with Penn State, collaborate to be able to build and really, kind of just play my part in contributing and, hopefully, turning Penn State in every sport that we have into the most premier programs that are out here in the country.
NSN: Coach Franklin’s been open in the past about how, when NIL started, Penn State was behind. Would you say they’re closing the gap right now?
LA: I believe so. I mean, (Athletic Director) Pat Kraft is amazing. Coach Franklin is amazing. The rest of the coaches are amazing, too, and have been very cooperative. I think we all know and understand the importance of getting that involvement because these other schools around the country are getting the involvement from their fanbases and from the people that support their institutions and their programs. So, you know, how far back are we, or what’s the deficit? I don’t really know. But what I will say is that they’re taking the right steps and the right direction to build up a space that has value for the fans to want to contribute and want to be a part of. That’s where I come in and play a very large role in creating content. I love creating content, and so creating content that’s impactful content for the fans to be able to be a part of is pretty important to me, and I’m pretty good at doing it, so that’s what we ended up settling in.
NSN: So talking about your position, Abdul Carter has obviously carried on the (ST1XC1TY) tradition here pretty well. What are just your thoughts on his game at linebacker, and also, do you see any similarities to another guy that used to wear number 11 in yourself?
“The legacy and tradition of 11 is growing and building. Each one of them has their own unique way of representing their experience. We support one another, we talk to one another, and it’s a brotherhood, a camaraderie that I think is pretty unique and pretty special. Abdul is no exception. I think that he has all the tools. He’s physically gifted, he’s mature, and, hell, this could be the first time we have two guys be finalists for the Butkus Award since I was in school with me and Brandon (Short) as finalists. I think Curtis (Jacobs) and Abdul are that good, and Kobe King, he’s a baller, too, so it’s a really, really nice mix and blend of different skill sets, but they’re all like superhero type of players, and Abdul has those St1x on, so he’s part of the St1xC1ty Superheroes clique. So we’re pretty excited about what he’s doing.”
NSN: The ’99 team goes up against this year’s team. What do you think happens?
LA: Oh, I don’t know. They have a quarterback. I mean, we had pretty good quarterbacks, but I think we were a little bit trying to figure out our identity on offense. On defense, we would have been stellar on defense, so they would have had to try to do something to our offense. I don’t know. That would have been an interesting matchup.