Another NFL Combine has come and gone, and once again, Penn State football flexed its muscles. Seven Nittany Lions total rolled into Indy and stamped their names into the next-level conversation last weekend. For most, it’s no longer a question of if, but now a question of when they’ll be drafted and realize that dreams really do come true the last weekend of April at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee.
Miles Sanders led off the stampede as he deftly stepped out of the shadow of last year’s sensation, Saquon Barkley, and raised plenty of eyebrows on his own merit. By the end of the weekend, Sanders found himself named one of this year’s Combine MVPs and gained All-Offense recognition. His counterpart in the backfield and our most beloved underdog of them all, Trace McSorley, smoked all QBs and ran the fastest 40 in that position group over the last few years. Despite being asked by one unnamed team to drill with the DBs (he respectfully declined), McSorley more than held his own in the passing drills that ensued and proved he could compete with the best of them.
Center/guard Connor McGovern ripped out 32 reps on the bench press and did nothing but enforce the notion that he’s worth an early round pick. The trio of Ryan Bates, Shareef Miller, and Kevin Givens all came in with question marks but left a favorable impression on the scouts’ eyes. Givens in fact, widely regarded as either going very late or as an undrafted free agent, was the center of attention after clocking a stellar sub five-second 40 yard dash time on his first attempt only to have it wiped off the books when the timekeeper claimed he didn’t stop the watch until after he crossed the 40 yard line.
The controversy served to raise Givens’ profile as scouts now eye Penn State’s Pro Day eager to see if he can duplicate his first run. Last but not least, any lingering doubt about Amani Oruwariye’s speed and ability to cover elite wideouts was quickly put to rest as the Florida native was clocked at a crowd-pleasing 40 time of 4.48 seconds and ran through his on-field drills with ease. Up next on their journey is the Penn State Pro Day on March 19th and the NFL Draft the last weekend in April.
Of course, none of them would be in this position individually or as a collection without the guidance of the man in the shadows, head strength coach Dwight Galt. He deserves as much praise as any, if not more, for sculpting these boys into men by the time they leave Happy Valley. Just as that group turns heads with NFL eyes watching, he’s busy whipping up the 2019 Nittany Lions into shape for the rigors of Big Ten football. James Franklin brings in the talent but it’s Galt that sends them off Lion Strong by the time it’s all said and done. Once again, his students stole the show in Indy.