For The Express
A slew of Penn State moves occurred Wednesday, the day after the Nittany Lions ended their season with a loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.
Junior offensive linemen Ryan Bates and Connor McGovern announced they were forgoing their final year of eligibility to declare for the NFL draft, as did junior defensive tackle Shareef Miller.
Miller and McGovern were widely expected to turn pro early, but the Bates decision came as a bit of a surprise to some.
In one other major move, Penn State coach James Franklin fired receivers coach David Corley, whose unit badly underachieved this season. Corley was fired after just one year at PSU.
Also Wednesday, seldom-used linebacker Dae’lun Darian announced he will be transferring for family-medical reasons. Darian is a redshirt sophomore from Baltimore.
There were some potential moves that did not occur Wednesday but still might in the coming days.
Receiver Juwan Johnson may decide to give up his final year of eligibility to turn pro. And special teams coach Phil Galiano could be on the hot seat following struggles in the kicking game this season.
As of now, Galiano still has his job. It’s very possible he could be keeping it, since if he were fired, it would have made sense for PSU to announce the decision Wednesday along with the Corley dismissal.
Here’s a closer look at some of the individual moves:
SUBHD: Ryan Bates
A three-year starter, the versatile lineman can play tackle or guard. He has been projected as high as a second-round pick in the 2020 draft, and many draft experts did not expect him to come out early.
“These past four years at Penn State have been some of the most memorable years of my life,” Bates tweeted. Attending Penn State and being part of the football program has been a blessing for me and my family.”
Offensive line coach Matt Limegrover tweeted that the team “will really miss” Bates.
“Tremendous young man who always did anything we asked of him for the good of the team,” Limegrover tweeted. “He will be missed on the field and in the O-line room but I can’t wait to watch him succeed at the next level.”
SUBHD: Connor McGovern
His departure was expected as he’s projected to be one of the top guards or centers for the upcoming draft. He’s played both positions at Penn State as a three-year starter.
“As a Pennsylvania kid from Lake-Lehman HS and the small town of Larksville, it has been an honor to play for Penn State,” McGovern said in a team statement “After much research, thought and discussion, I have decided to declare for the NFL draft.
“While I have not had a presence on social media, I want all of Nittany Nation to know your support has meant the world to me. … I completely understand the immense challenge before me and that this decision will invoke various opinions of my readiness. What I am ready to do is to relentlessly work to improve each and every day.”
Franklin called McGovern a “great leader for us as a three-year starter.”
“He has been instrumental in building our offensive line room’s chemistry. We are excited for Connor to make this next step in his football career. We couldn’t be more proud of Connor and wish him nothing but success.”
SUBHD: Shareef Miller
His decision to leave PSU appeared inevitable, and he said a few weeks that he’d already made up his mind but would announce after the bowl game.
“Coach Franklin, I would also like to thank you for giving a kid from Frankford a life-changing opportunity, it was an honor to play for you while receiving a great education,” Miller said in a team statement.
He also thanked D-line coach Sean Spencer.
“Coach Spence, my main man, thank you,” Miller said. “You have been a great coach and mentor throughout my career at Penn State. I appreciate you believing in me and teaching me life lessons I’ll never forget.”
SUBHD: David Corley
He was caught in a tough situation this season. He was the receivers coach at Army, which rarely throws the ball, and was hired to be the running backs coach at PSU. But after hiring Corley, Franklin hired Ja’Juan Seider from Florida, and he became the running backs coach, while Corley was moved to receivers coach.
Penn State’s receivers had, in many respects, a terrible season. The wideouts combined to drop about three-dozen passes, which badly hampered the offense, and the problems persisted all the way through the bowl game.
Despite being at PSU just one season, Franklin decided the program had to go another direction.
“I appreciate David’s efforts this season but feel it is in our program’s best interest to make a change at this time. I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future,” Franklin said in a team statement.
Franklin said a national search will take place to find Corley’s replacement.
SUBHD: Dae’lun Darian
He had been a tight end before moving to linebacker this year. He played on special teams but did not get much action on defense.
“I enjoyed the experience and the fan base is unbelievable. Unfortunately I will be transferring to a school closer to home due to my father’s illness and some other family issues,” Darian wrote on social media.