Penn State has busy day after bowl

UNIVERSITY PARK — 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 tackles Shareef Miller and Kevin Givens.

Miller and McGovern were widely expected to turn pro early, but the Bates decision came as a bit of a surprise.

Also Wednesday, seldom-used linebacker Dae’lun Darian announced he will be transferring for family medical reasons. Darian is a redshirt sophomore from Baltimore.

And, Penn State coach James Franklin fired receivers coach David Corley, whose unit badly underachieved this season. Corley was fired after just one year at Penn State.

Still not announcing their intent are running back Miles Sanders and receiver Juwan Johnson, who may decide to give up their 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.

Bates, a versatile lineman that can play tackle or guard, is a three-year starter. 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.

Connor McGovern’s 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 High School 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.”

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.”

Shareef Miller’s decision to leave Penn Stater appeared inevitable, and he said previously 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.”

Givens finished the season with 33 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. He also had one pass breakup and four quarterback hurries. He earned the Jim O’Hora Award in 2018 for the defensive player with exemplary conduct, loyalty, interest, attitude and improvement during spring practice.

He has received a number of honors each year.

“Although I’m moving on, a piece of my soul will always live in State College,” Givens said in a team statement. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“Kevin’s evolution and growth since arriving on campus is impressive. He came in as a high school outside linebacker and running back and transitioned to defensive end here and then moved to defensive tackle,” Franklin said. “His versatility was an asset for our team and we wish him nothing but success at the next level.”

Darian was 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.

Corley 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 Penn State. 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.

“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.