Penn State’s new-look linebacker corps has gotten an old-school addition. Prior to the Nittany Lions’ 2018 Media Day at Beaver Stadium, senior linebacker Manny Bowen, who had been suspended and later dismissed from the program late last season, was added back to the roster.
Head coach James Franklin is expected to address the situation during his Media Day press conference on Saturday afternoon.
“We created some stipulations for Manny to achieve,” Franklin said. “If he lived up to his end of the bargain, then we could facilitate [his return]. … We didn’t make it easy on him. … The easiest thing would’ve been to transfer.”
Bowen is on track to graduate in December, according to Franklin.
Bowen was removed from the roster prior to the Fiesta Bowl after serving a short suspension during the season. No specific reason was given for his dismissal. But he remained enrolled at University Park.
Bowen missed the team’s final three regular-season games due to a violation of unspecified team rules. Over the first nine games, he compiled 51 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He was on pace to finish as Penn State’s second-leading tackler prior to his suspension. He still finished fifth on the team in tackles.
He started 12 games as a sophomore during Penn State’s run to a Big Ten championship, but also missed the Rose Bowl against USC (along with wideout Saeed Blacknall) due to a suspension. He finished that season fifth on the team with 68 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. He played in 13 games as a true freshman in 2015 as the Nittany Lions dealt with a lack of depth at the position when Nyeem Wartman-White went down in a week one loss to Temple.
Penn State’s linebacker situation this year revolves around projected veteran starters Koa Farmer and Cam Brown and also figures to factor in young players like former five-star Micah Parsons, freshman early enrollee Jesse Luketa and redshirt freshman Ellis Brooks. Veteran backups Jan Johnson, Jake Cooper and Jarvis Miller also hope to make a dent in the two-deep.
Bowen is a welcomed presence in the middle of Brent Pry’s defense as the Nittany Lions attempt to replace the graduated Jason Cabinda and Brandon Smith, who started in place of Bowen in the final three games of the season and the Fiesta Bowl.
At Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last month, Franklin declined to give specific details when asked if Bowen would be rejoining the team.
The Nittany Lions open the 2018 season against Appalachian State at Beaver Stadium Sept. 1. The defending Fiesta Bowl champion Nittany Lions, who went 11-2 overall and 7-2 in the Big Ten in 2017, have played in two straight New Year’s Six bowl games and will be shooting for their first appearance in the College Football Playoff this fall.
Stay tuned to Lions247 With Fight On State for the most in-depth team and recruiting coverage of Penn State football.
247Sports’ Sean Fitz & Tyler Donohue contributed to this report.