Paul Posluszny, Sean Lee enjoy ‘special’ night at WPIAL Hall of Fame induction

Saturday, June 1, 2019 | 9:27 PM

Paul Posluszny and Sean Lee were teammates at Penn State, groomsmen in each other’s weddings and close friends throughout their NFL days.

That relationship made Saturday all the more special, they said, as the two star linebackers entered the WPIAL Hall of Fame together in a star-studded 2019 class that included athletes from the NFL, NBA and MLB.

The inductees were honored with a banquet at the DoubleTree in Green Tree.

“It’s awesome,” said Posluszny, a Hopewell graduate who played 11 seasons in the NFL. “It’s so special because I’m going in with Sean. He’s a great person, great friend, great football player. To be able to share this together is very special.”

Posluszny, who retired after the 2017 season, was drafted into the NFL three years before Lee. The two were Nittany Lions teammates in 2005-06.

“I’ve been trying to mimic him for a long time,” said Lee, an Upper St. Clair graduate who will play his 10th season this fall for the Dallas Cowboys. “We came from the same area, and I think we like to play the game the same way. … He’s been a huge influence on my career.”

This 13th induction class also included former NFL quarterbacks Charlie Batch of Steel Valley and Bruce Gradkowski of Seton LaSalle, Braddock basketball star Billy Knight, who played 11 seasons combined in the ABA and NBA and has his number retired at Pitt, and Upper St. Clair baseball’s Sean Casey, who played 12 seasons in the majors.

Also inducted was Upper St. Clair’s Jim Render, who retired this year as the winningest football coach in WPIAL history. With Lee, Render and Casey all inducted together, Upper St. Clair was well-represented in the crowd.

“As I get older, I think you’re more grateful and appreciative for where you grew up and the people you grew up with,” Casey said. “I look at the WPIAL and Upper St. Clair, and I say I am so thankful and lucky.”

Joining them in this year’s class were North Allegheny’s Stephanie Madia (cross country/track), Avella’s Gary Tranquill (football), Washington/Canon-McMillan’s Guy Montecalvo (football/track), Monaca/Beaver Falls’ Larry Bruno (football), Connellsville’s John Woodruff (track), game official Joe Hardiman and contributor George Anderson (soccer).

“There are only so many players that get to go in,” Knight said, “so it’s an honor to be up there with guys that I’ve watched and admired. … My family got to be here, some of my teammates, it was really enjoyable to spend the evening here with all of these folks.”

Bruno and Woodruff were inducted posthumously. Woodruff, an Olympic gold medalist in 1936, was represented by his son John Jr. Representing Bruno were his daughter Valerie Bruno Wright and Beaver Falls graduate Richard Mancini, a judge on the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas.

The class featured nine athletes, three coaches, two teams, one game official and one contributor. The championship teams inducted were 1979 North Hills cross country and 1998 Rochester football.

Chartiers Valley’s Ryan Michael Estatico and Mt. Pleasant’s Dom Giallonardo received the John Challis Courage Award.

Remarkably, Lee and Posluszny weren’t the only college friends inducted together Saturday. Render and Tranquill were friends at Wittenberg, where both played college football.

Tranquill had a long coaching career with jobs in the NCAA and NFL, he worked under Bill Belichick and once had Nick Saban as an assistant.

“I used to follow him around like a little pup,” Render said of Tranquill. “He then graduated and came back as a coach. He was my friend, my coach and a great guy.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .

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