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PSU's Sales making most of opportunity

| Friday, Aug. 8, 2008

Penn State's Tyrell Sales was thrust into playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2005, starting three games at inside linebacker as Dan Connor dealt with the disciplinary fallout after making prank phone calls.

The Butler product will assume another role this season, that of defensive leader.

When linebacker Sean Lee suffered a serious knee injury late in spring drills that will force him to miss this season, the usually soft-spoken Sales was quick to assume a leadership role.

"A couple of months ago, we were watching some tape, and coach was talking about one of the games, and I looked around, and I was the only guy around who'd played in that game," Sales said. "It was like, 'Wow, I'm a fifth-year senior.'

"You have to take responsibility as a leader, and I stand up to that. I'm ready to go."

Penn State coach Joe Paterno saw a changed Sales late in spring practice.

"If you have a good organization and somebody goes down, somebody comes to the front," Paterno said. "That's the way I feel about a kid like Tyrell Sales, who has really hung in the back. All of a sudden, he's a real gung-ho guy."

Added Lee: "It's his turn."

Sales started all 12 games last season at outside linebacker and played on special teams, ranking sixth on the team with 50 tackles, 5 1/2 for a loss. He had six tackles, including one sack, in the Alamo Bowl win over Texas A&M.

Sales has produced a productive career at Penn State, but it's been overshadowed by the presence of All-American linebackers Paul Posluszny and Connor, as well as the highly regarded Lee.

Sales has no regrets, though. He doesn't waste time wondering if he could have been a more high-profile player elsewhere.

"I feel like the position that I'm in now, I have a grand opportunity in front of me," he said, "So, I'd be foolish to complain about anything. I'm here. I'm a fifth-year senior. I have a degree from a great university, and I have an opportunity to play a lot of football this year, so I can't complain."

Sales' stats
Here's a look at Penn State linebacker Tyrell Sales' career by year:
Year Tackles Sacks Tackles for loss
2005 19 0 2
2006 17 0 0
2007 50 3 5 1/2

Sales' degree is in marketing, which, considering his surname, is fitting. He's working on another in media studies. He's earned multiple Academic All-Big Ten accolades.

Sales has dealt with adversity, too, during his years at Penn State.

He faced charges in connection with an April 2007 fight at an off-campus apartment and an incident this March at a Pittsburgh nightclub. In both instances, all of the charges were dismissed or withdrawn.

"I think I've matured a lot since I've gotten here, just being around some of the people I've been around, going through some of the experiences I've had to go through," he said. "You have to go through certain things in life before you can understand what it is that you really need to be doing.

"Just like anybody else, you have your trials and tribulations, but you can only become more of a man from it."

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