Former Nittany Lions Gross-Matos and Hamler taken in second round of draft

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Two former Penn State football players didn’t have to wait long to see their names called, as defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and wide receiver KJ Hamler were each selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft on Friday night.

The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Gross-Matos had 35 tackles for a loss and 17 1/2 sacks in two seasons as a starter for the Nittany Lions.

He was a first-team all-conference selection as a junior after pacing the Penn State defense with 40 tackles and 9 1/2 sacks. The defensive end is expected to compete for a starting job with last year’s first-round draft pick Brian Burns and new free agent pickup Stephen Weatherly from the Vikings.

Penn State coach James Franklin took to Twitter to congratulate his former player.

“Incredibly proud of Yetur & excited for his family! Carolina is getting a special young man!” Franklin said.

Hamler, who is generously listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, is elusive with an uncommon burst of speed.

Hamler modeled his game after DeSean Jackson and Steve Smith, but the Broncos see him as a Tyreek Hill-type playmaker who can also serve as Denver’s kick returner and help the Broncos chase down Hill and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the AFC West.

Even though he’s undersized, Hamler stood out even in a class of wide receivers like none other.

“I’m a dog,” Hamler said at the NFL scouting combine. “That’s just point blank, period. You don’t find a lot of people my size, doing some things that I do. Me personally, my playmaking ability, my dog mentality just stands out.”

On Friday night, Hamler said he was surprised when Elway called, but he said he was eager to team up with Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and former college teammate DaeSean Hamilton in Denver, where he expects to quickly make his mark.

“I’ve been an underdog my whole life. I’ve always had something to prove just because of my size,” Hamler said. “I had to develop in other areas to help out. So, my dog mentality, I do that on and off the field. I don’t take nothing from nobody. I don’t back down from nobody. It’s like a David and Goliath story. I’m the smallest guy with the smallest frame, but I’ll give you everything I’ve got.”

James Franklin also offered his support to Hamler on Twitter.

“Congratulations KJ! Going to miss your electric personality & playmaking ability! But most of all, I am going to miss your parents’ rap videos!”


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