Coaches: Lions start No. 14

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State was ranked No. 14 in the preseason coaches poll, released Thursday, and was the third-highest rated team from the Big Ten East.

Clemson received 59 of the 65 first-place votes to come in at No. 1, while Alabama got the other six first-place votes and is No. 2. Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State round out the top five.

LSU is at No. 6 and Michigan No. 7. So the Buckeyes and Wolverines are both in the top 10 from the Big Ten East.

Florida, Notre Dame and Texas round out the top 10. Other Big Ten teams ranked were Wisconsin (No. 17), Iowa (19), Michigan State (20) and Northwestern (25).

Gains and losses

The Nittany Lions lost a big piece of their 2021 recruiting class Thursday when wide receiver Dont’e Thornton decommitted. The four-star recruit from Baltimore is rated the No. 4 receiver in the nation by 247Sports and had been the first player to commit to Penn State’s class of 2021.

Thornton wrote on Twitter: “First off I want to thank Coach Franklin and the entire Penn State coaching staff and family for all the love they have provided me during my commitment. Truly after countless hours of thinking with my family and coaches about this, I would like to announce that I am reopening my recruitment to explore and weigh all my options.”

Thornton went on to say that “Penn State will always stay in the picture. But I just wanna make sure that I make the right decision for myself and my family.”

The Lions got a commitment from four-star tight end Nick Elksnis on Wednesday. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder from Jacksonville, Fla., also had offers from the likes of Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Former Penn State linebacker Manny Bowen was expected to be a key player for Utah this season, but he announced his sudden retirement from college football on Thursday.

Bowen ran into several issues at Penn State that caused him to be suspended. He transferred to Utah looking for a new start, but apparently he has a business opportunity he wants to pursue instead of playing football any longer.

“Unfortunately, a couple days ago, Manny informed us that he is retiring from football,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told the media on Thursday. “He’s got a business opportunity that he felt was too good to pass up and the opportunity was for right now.

“He is exiting football and starting a business career. We wish him the best, hate to see him go. We were excited about what he was going to bring to the table this season.”