There’s probably only one player…ok, maybe two…ahh heck, most likely all of them, that could turn a die-hard Steeler fan into a closet-follower of the hated Ravens, but that’s exactly what happened the moment I saw Trace McSorley’s name scroll across the screen as Baltimore’s sixth-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. There wasn’t even an ounce of hesitation, although somewhere down the line I’ve got a sneaky feeling we’ll be staring down the barrel of a #9 comeback. Then again, I distinctly recall having that same itch to add a New York Giants #26 jersey to my wardrobe attire last year, so I guess it’s finally time to admit my allegiance to a particular team at the next level has clearly taken a back seat lately to the Next Level Nittany Lions.
This year, they equaled the number taken in 2018, even after being snubbed in round one. In fact, if there wasn’t such a thing as a Philly Pipeline prior to this weekend’s festivities, consider that now squashed as Miles Sanders started off the Nittany Six onslaught with the Eagles second-round pick as he continues his football travels East from his humble Pittsburgh beginnings to Happy Valley, to Philly. Speaking of Saquon, imagine the intrigue this fall when those two lace up and go head-to-head! On Saturday afternoon, Philly-native Shareef Miller got the call to come home to where it all began in the fourth round and both DeAndre Thompkins and Ryan Bates were signed as undrafted free agents immediately after the draft to complete the quartet chosen to remain in-state. The Eagles had not selected a player from Penn State since Tony Hunt in 2007 but made up for lost time in 2019.
Much to the delight of all those that made ‘McGovernville’ so enjoyable over the past few years in Happy Valley, Connor McGovern was taken in the third round by the Dallas Cowboys, and although he waited a little longer than projected, Amani ‘Once a Lion, Always A Lion’ Oruwariye was the fifth-round pick of the Detroit Lions. Last but not least, and just as our tears of joy were wiped away from watching the huge exhale inside the McSorley home, Nick Scott proved that hard work pays off as the Los Angeles Rams simply could not deny his charisma and athleticism by choosing him in the seventh round. Once the draft ended and the lights went out in Nashville, Penn State had another Nittany Six signed as undrafted free agents including Thompkins and Bates with the Eagles, Kevin Givens (San Francisco), Koa Farmer (Oakland), Kyle Vasey (Arizona), and Jonathan Thomas (Bengals).
All in all, Penn State was tied fifth nationally with its total number of players drafted and second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. With a way-to-early peek at next year’s potential draft picks coming out of Happy Valley possibly topping the last two years, it’s safe to say this football program is trending in the right direction. Transfer portal, growing pains, and all. As for the Nittany Six and the undrafted free agents of 2019, they proved that dreams really do come true over the weekend and gave us all one heck of a ride as we spent the last four years chasing them together!