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Penn State football: Coaches make big mistake by slighting Yetur Gross-Matos on All-Big Ten team

Three of Penn State’s defensive players earned spots on the All-Big Ten team on Tuesday night, with five others earning honorable mentions. But one selection just didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was a unanimous first-team selection, while defensive end Shareef Miller was a unanimous third-team pick. Fair enough. The issue came with defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, who was a first-team media selection — but somehow, some way — a third-team coaches selection.

Third team? Really?

Maybe it’s because Gross-Matos’ name is hard to pronounce. Or maybe it’s because the sophomore came out of nowhere this season to become arguably the Nittany Lions’ best defensive player. Ignorance can be the only actual defense here.

If you watched Gross-Matos or, heck, even glanced at the stats once — you’d know he’s no third-teamer.

Let’s compare and contrast. Here are Gross-Matos’ numbers this season: 54 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 8 sacks. Here are the stats from first-team coaches selection Rashan Gary of Michigan: 44 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks. And here are Ohio State second-teamer Chase Young’s numbers: 29 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks.

You don’t need an advanced mathematics degree like John Urschel to notice that one group of numbers is not like the other. The third-teamer has better marks in every single category.

Gross-Matos is second in the conference in tackles for loss and fifth in sacks. But somehow, according to the Big Ten coaches, at least eight linemen in the conference are better than him.

It’d be great to ask for an explanation from a Big Ten coach. But the response would likely be somewhere along the lines of, “Oops, that was a mistake.” Or “I don’t pick those; I just sign off on them like the top-25 rankings.” Because this is pretty black and white.

It’s a mistake that Gross-Matos is a third-team pick. Heck, it’s a mild disgrace.

Even if you’re trying to look beyond the stat sheet, Gross-Matos’ case only becomes stronger. The underclassman improved as the year wore on and, in the last seven games, has 16 tackles for loss to go along with six sacks.

Against Maryland this past weekend, he was tasked with stopping sweeps and runs that bounced outside. He helped contain the Terps’ then-No. 17 rushing attack — an attack that gashed Ohio State for 341 yards — to just 74 yards.

“Maryland was a big jet team, and the way he stopped the jet — it was like taking candy away,” teammate and linebacker Koa Farmer said Saturday.

Gross-Matos may not be getting the credit he deserves right now. But it’ll come. The coaches royally screwed up this season — there’s no other way to say it — but the 6-foot-5 defensive end with the reported 4.52 40-yard dash will be virtually impossible to ignore in 2019.

Even if he was ignored in 2018.

******

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Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (99) runs down Maryland wide receiver Jeshaun Jones (6) during the game against Maryland at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. No. 12 Penn State won 38-3.

Linsey Fagan

The All-Big Ten defensive teams are listed below, with Penn State players bolded. The offensive teams will be released Wednesday evening.

Coaches

First Second Third
DL Chase Winovich, Michigan A.J. Epenesa, Iowa Anthony Nelson, Iowa
DL Rashan Gary, Michigan Carter Coughlin, Minnesota Raequan Williams, Michigan State
DL Kenny Willekes, Michigan State Joe Gaziano, Northwestern Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
DL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State Chase Young, Ohio State Shareef Miller, Penn State
LB Devin Bush, Michigan Tre Watson, Maryland Blake Cashman, Minnesota
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State Markus Bailey, Purdue Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin
DB Amani Hooker, Iowa Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland David Dowell, Michigan State
DB Lavert Hill, Michigan Darnell Savage Jr., Maryland Dicaprio Bootle, Nebraska
DB David Long, Michigan Josh Metellus, Michigan Montre Hartage, Northwestern
DB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State Justin Layne, Michigan State D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin

Honorable Mentions: INDIANA: Jonathan Crawford, Marcelino Ball; IOWA: Jake Gervase, Matt Nelson; MARYLAND: Byron Cowart, Tino Ellis; MICHIGAN: Bryan Mone, Josh Ross, Josh Uche, Kahleke Hudson, Tyree Kinnel; MICHIGAN STATE: Andrew Dowell, Khari Willis, Mike Panasiuk; MINNESOTA: Jacob Huff; NEBRASKA: Carlos Davis, Luke Gifford, Mohamed Barry; NORTHWESTERN: Blake Gallagher, J.R. Pace, Nate Hall; OHIO STATE: Damon Arnette, Jeffrey Okudah, Jonathon Cooper, Jordan Fuller, Kendall Sheffield, Malik Harrison, Robert Landers, Tuf Borland; PENN STATE: Garrett Taylor, John Reid, Robert Windsor; PURDUE: Antonio Blackmon, Derrick Barnes, Jacob Thineneman, Lorenzo Neal; RUTGERS: Saquan Hampton

Media

First Second Third
DL

A.J. Epenesa, Iowa

Anthony Nelson, Iowa

Raequan Williams, Michigan State

DL

Chase Winovich, Michigan

Rashan Gary, Michigan Joe Gaziano, Northwestern
DL Kenny Willekes, Michigan State Carter Coughlin, Minnesota Chase Young, Ohio State
DL

Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State Shareef Miller, Penn State
LB Tre Watson, Maryland Joe Bachie, Michigan State Mohamed Barry, Nebraska
LB Devin Bush, Michigan Blake Cashman, Minnesota Blake Gallagher, Northwestern
LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin Paddy Fisher, Northwestern Markus Bailey, Purdue
DB Amani Hooker, Iowa

Darnell Savage Jr., Maryland

David Long, Michigan
DB Lavert Hill, Michigan

Josh Metellus, Michigan

Khari Willis, Michigan State
DB Montre Hartage, Northwestern Justin Layne, Michigan State Dicaprio Bootle, Nebraska
DB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State Jordan Fuller, Ohio State D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin

Honorable Mentions: ILLINOIS: Del’Shawn Phillips, Bobby Roundtree; INDIANA: Marcelino Ball, Jonathan Crawford; IOWA: Jake Gervase, Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson, Geno Stone; MARYLAND: Antoine Brooks Jr., Byron Cowart, Tino Ellis; MICHIGAN: Khaleke Hudson, Tyree Kinnel, Kwity Paye, Josh Uche; MICHIGAN STATE: Andrew Dowell, David Dowell, Mike Panasiuk; MINNESOTA: Jacob Huff; NEBRASKA: Khalil Davis, Luke Gifford; NORTHWESTERN: Nate Hall, H.R. Pace; OHIO STATE: Damon Arnette, Tuf Borland, Nick Bosa, Jonathan Cooper, Malik Harrison, Kendall Sheffield, Pete Werner; PENN STATE: Micah Parsons, John Reid, Nick Scott, Garrett Taylor, Robert Windsor; PURDUE: Antonio Blackmon, Kenneth Major, Lorenzo Neal, Jacob Thineneman; RUTGERS: Saquan Hampton, Trevor Morris; WISCONSIN: Ryan Connelly, Andrew Van Ginkel

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