Shuler capitalizes on slot for Quarless

Posted: September 02, 2007

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Mickey Shuler surprised even himself yesterday.

This was, after all, the first career start for the Penn State redshirt sophomore. Add in the facts that he was pressed into the role and was carrying the weight of being a legacy, and it wouldn't come as a shock if Shuler were a tad anxious.

If he was, he didn't show it.

Midway through the first quarter, Shuler caught a 17-yard touchdown pass - giving the Nittany Lions a 14-0 lead on their way to a 59-0 romp over Florida International. He tacked on three catches before halftime, finishing with four receptions for 54 yards.

"I'm not quite sure how I did it," Shuler said about his first career reception. "I worked pretty hard in the off-season to prepare. . . . I guess that's what helped me not be nervous."

Until Friday, Shuler wasn't sure whether he or redshirt junior Jordan Lyons would get the call to replace sophomore Andrew Quarless. Earlier in the week, coach Joe Paterno had suspended Quarless and backup defensive back Willie Harriott indefinitely because of underage-drinking citations.

Shuler and Lyons worked with the first-team offense leading up to the season opener. Shuler got the good news Friday. The first call he made was, naturally, to his home in Enola, Pa., to tell his father, Mickey Sr.

A three-year letter winner (1975-77) for Penn State and a former tight end with the New York Giants and the Eagles, the elder Shuler scored his last touchdown for the Lions almost 30 years ago against West Virginia, on Oct. 22, 1977.

The elder Shuler, who was at yesterday's game, gave his son a few postgame tips.

"He told me I had a good game," Shuler said. "Told me to keep my hands inside of my blocking."

The ever-paternal Paterno was more generous with his praise for the 20-year-old.

"I thought he handled himself well for a guy that's not played before," Paterno said. "Mickey's a good athlete. He comes from good stock."

When the younger Shuler was recruited out of East Pennsboro High - the school his father attended - he was more of a wide receiver at 214 pounds. According to Paterno, some questioned whether Shuler could turn himself into a tight end, despite his pedigree.

He was heading to Happy Valley either way. In addition to his father, his three older sisters - Nicole, Karah and Brooke - had preceded him.

"There really wasn't much of a choice for me," Shuler said. "When they offered me a scholarship, I was taking it."

Shuler took it into the weight room, where he turned himself into a present-day 6 feet 4, 250 pounds. Then, given the opportunity yesterday, he grabbed it, even if he missed a few blocks his father may have made.

"I always listen to my father," Shuler said. "It would be stupid not to."


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

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