Over its long and storied history, Penn football has been highly decorated and very successful. The Quakers have won the second most Ivy League titles with 18, have had 18 players and three coaches elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, and countless players have gone on to have NFL careers. We took a deep dive into the illustrious history of the Red and Blue football and put together an all-time Penn offense.
Quarterback — Gavin Hoffman
Hoffman began his career as the starting quarterback for Northwestern in 1998, but transferred to Penn before the 1999 season. In his three seasons as starting quarterback at Penn, Hoffman set and still holds the Penn records for most career passing yards, most career completions, and ranks second in passing touchdowns. In 2000, Hoffman had arguably the most impressive season for a Penn quarterback in the history of the program, leading the nation with a 70.5% completion rate and passing for 3,213 yards, the most ever by a Penn quarterback in a single season. Hoffman led the Quakers to a 7-3 (6-1 Ivy) record en route to the 2000 Ivy League title and won the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Player of the Year.
Running back — Robert "Bob" Odell, Francis "Reds" Bagnell
Odell played for the Quakers from 1941-1943, helping lead the team to an 18-6-2 record over those three seasons. In 1943, he had one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of Penn football. He rushed, passed, kicked, punted, and defended his way to a first team All-American berth, a Maxwell Award, as the best all-around college player in the nation and a runner-up finish in Heisman voting. As captain that year, he led the Quakers to a 6-2-2 record and a final ranking of 20th in the AP poll. Following the 1943 season, Odell was drafted 15th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was never able to play in the NFL due to his service in the Navy from 1944-1946 and injuries. Instead, Odell went on to become a football coach, eventually coaching at Penn from 1965-1970 and getting inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
Bagnell played as a halfback and quarterback for the Quakers from 1948-1950. In 1950, Bagnell set a national record when he had a single game offensive total of 490 yards (214 yards rushing and 276 yards passing) in a 42-26 victory over Dartmouth. Bagnell finished the year with 1,700+ yards of total offense, eighth most in all of college football, on his way to a Maxwell Award, a first team All-American berth, and a third place finish in Heisman Voting. Bagnell was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
Wide receiver — Justin Watson, Don Clune
Watson, who currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had one of the most prolific college careers of any Ivy League receiver in history. By the time Watson graduated, he held the record for most 100 yard games (19), most consecutive games with a touchdown reception (10), and most consecutive games with a reception (40) by an Ivy League receiver. He also had the second-most receiving yards and third-most receiving touchdowns and receptions by an Ivy League receiver for a career, and led the Ivy League in receiving yards in both 2016 and 2017. He also earned three first team All-Ivy selections and helped Penn win the Ivy League championship in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, Watson was instrumental in Penn’s victory over Villanova in 2015, scoring two touchdowns in the Quakers first win over the Wildcats in over 100 years. Watson was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he is currently catching passes from Tom Brady .
Clune is a three-time first team All-Ivy wide receiver who played for the Quakers from 1971-1973. His 284 yards in a 1971 game against Harvard are the second-most by an Ivy League receiver in a game in history. Clune led the conference in receiving yards in both 1971 and 1973 and was selected in the fifth round of the 1974 NFL Draft. Clune currently has the fourth most receiving yards and fifth most receiving touchdowns in Penn history despite only playing on the team for three years.
Tight end — Brent Novoselsky
Novolesky was an integral part of Penn’s iconic 1986 undefeated Ivy League title winning season, earning first team All-Ivy honors that season. Novoselsky was named second team All-Ivy in 1987 before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears, where he played for one season before spending the rest of his seven-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.
Center — Chuck Bednarik
The NFL’s last “60 minute man” played for the Quakers from 1946-1948, earning All-American honors each year, doing double duty and playing as a center on offense and a linebacker on defense. In his senior year, Bednarik won the Maxwell Award and finished third in Heisman voting before being taken first overall in the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles on his way to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career. Bednarik was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969, the same year he was voted college football’s greatest center of all time by a panel of players, coaches and writers.
Guard — Charles "Buck" Wharton, T. Truxton Hare
Wharton played for the Quakers from 1894-1897. During his time at Penn, the Quakers went 52-4, including winning 34 straight games, and won two national championships. Wharton was known for taking out the entire side of the opponent’s defensive line with his unique combination of size and speed. He was a two time All-American and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
When Wharton left, the Quakers quickly found a good replacement. Hare played at Penn from 1897-1900 and never missed a minute during his time on the team. The Quakers went 47-5-2 during his career and he is one of only a few players to ever be named to four All-American first teams. Hare was a member of the inaugural class of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
Tackle — George Savitsky, Edward McGinley, Jr.
Savitsky was a key member of the Penn offensive line from 1944-1947, being named a first team All-American in all four years of his collegiate career, the only player to accomplish this feat since 1901. Savitsky was a prolific two way player who started at the tackle position on both sides of the ball and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
A prolific player who played for Penn in 1923 and 1924, McGinley was not only great on both offense and defense, but also on special teams. McGinley was an All-American in 1924 and had one of the most memorable performances in Penn history that season in an iconic Thanksgiving matchup with Cornell. McGinley downed four punts inside the Cornell 20 and played almost the entire game, leading the Quakers to a 20-0 victory en route to a 9-1-1 record and a national championship. McGinley’s three sons also all played football for the Quakers and McGinley was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
The Quakers have had many great players come through the program over the past 130 years and continue to be a quintessential example of a model football team. As more and more players will help continue to add on to the program’s outstanding legacy, they will try to place themselves in the conversation for a spot on the all-time team.
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