After improving all season, several Penn State football defensive players earned some awards for their efforts.
Penn State football players Amani Oruwariye, Yetur Gross-Matos and Shareef Miller received some big news Tuesday. The defensive stars were named to the 2018 All-Big Ten Football Defense Team.
Oruwariye was a first-team selection by both coaches and the media. Gross-Matos was a first-team selection by the media, and a third-team selection by coaches. Miller was a third-team pick by both the coaches and the media. Given the ups and downs the Penn State defense had this season, it’s positive to see these players get the recognition they deserve for their stellar play on the field.
Amani Oruwariye’s name is buzzing around NFL Draft circles. The six-foot-one, 201-pound corner had quite the season. He totaled three interceptions, 48 total tackles, 11 pass deflections and one forced fumble. The big bodied DB will be representing Penn State football in the Senior Bowl alongside Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley.
The media made the right call by putting Gross-Matos on the first-team, but the coaches snubbed the defensive end by putting him on the third-team. Gross-Matos came up big this season, and many experts didn’t expect that. An argument can be made that Gross-Matos was the overall best defensive player of the Penn State football team this year. He padded the state sheet quite well this season (54 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks).
Guess who made the coaches first-team list? Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, who by all means is an excellent player, but didn’t perform at the level Gross-Matos did this season. Gary had 44 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks (he did battle some injuries this season).
Whatever the reason is for leaving Gross-Matos off the first-team list, it isn’t acceptable. That being said, he’s about to become a household name.
Shareef Miller was a unanimous third-team pick, and that’s fine. Miller finished the regular season with 22 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Miller has the potential to be drafted this year if he declares. His athleticism is attractive to NFL Scouts.
Paul Hornung Award nominee KJ Hamler was an honorable mention for return specialist. Linebacker Micah Parsons, defensive lineman Robert Windsor, and defensive backs Nick Scott, Garrett Taylor, and John Reid also earned honorable mentions.
Penn State will have to wait until Sunday to figure out what bowl game they’ll be playing in. Potential bowls include the Peach Bowl (Atlanta, Ga.), Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Fla.), or the Outback Bowl (Tampa, Fla.).