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College Football – Penn State Quartet Declares for NFL Draft

Bates, Givens, McGovern and Miller will forgo their senior seasons and enter the 2019 NFL Draft

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; January 2, 2019 – Junior offensive linemen Ryan Bates (Warrington, Pa.) and Connor McGovern (Larksville, Pa.), junior defensive tackle Kevin Givens (Altoona, Pa.) and junior defensive end Shareef Miller (Philadelphia, Pa.) have decided to forgo their senior seasons and declare for the NFL Draft.

Ryan Bates, Connor McGovern

The duo of Bates and McGovern paved the way for a record-breaking Penn State offense, which included the program’s all-time passing leader and top touchdown scorer.

In 2016, the Nittany Lions broke the program record for total offense (6,056), points (526; tied with 1994 team), passing yards (3,650) and passing touchdowns (29). Penn State finished fifth in FBS in passing yards per completion (16.15), 14th in team passing efficiency (156.6), 36th in passing offense (260.7) and 49th in total offense (432.6). Saquon Barkley finished 14th in FBS with 1,496 rushing yards, 21st in all-purpose yards per game (140.86) and seventh in rushing touchdowns (18). Trace McSorley broke the Penn State record for passing yards (3,614), passing touchdowns (29) and total offense (3,979). He also led FBS in passing yards per completion (16.13).

Last season, the Penn State offense finished seventh in scoring offense (41.1), 14th in team passing efficiency (153.59), 19th in total offense (460.3) and 23rd in passing offense (290.2). Barkley was honored as the Paul Hornung Award winner for the most versatile player in college football, became Penn State’s 100th first-team All-American and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. He was the only player in FBS with 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards. McSorley completed 66.5 percent of his passes en route to 3,570 passing yards, which is second in school history behind his 3,614 yards from the 2016 season.

In 2018, the Nittany Lions were once again among the nation’s leaders offensively. Penn State ranks sixth in red zone offense (.923), 29th in rushing offense (208.6) and 29th in scoring offense (34.6). McSorley became Penn State’s all-time passing leader, finishing his career with 9,899 yards and 77 touchdowns. Miles Sanders became the 45th player in program history to have 1,000 rushing yards in a season ending the year with 1,274 yards.

Ryan Bates

“These past four years at Penn State have been some of the most memorable years of my life,” Bates said. “Attending Penn State and being a part of the football program has been a blessing for me and my family. At Penn State, I made lifelong friends and have had the opportunity to accomplish a number of goals, the one I am most proud of is being able to complete my degree in Labor and Employment Relations.” 

After much discussion with friends, family and coaches, I have made the decision to forgo my final year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. First and foremost, I would like to thank God for putting me in the position I am in today, my family for being there for me every step of the way and supporting me in every decision I have made, and my teammates, because football is a team sport and I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything on the field if it wasn’t for them. I wish nothing but the best for my brothers in the Blue and White in the future. I am forever grateful for James Franklin and Penn State for allowing me to play football and further my education at this great institution. WE ARE!!!”

“Ryan has made so many contributions to our program in his three years as a starter,” Head Coach James Franklin said. “He has been a great teacher for younger guys in the offensive line room. We are so proud he graduated with his degree in labor and employment relations in December. We wish him the best of luck at the next level and couldn’t be more proud of Ryan and what he has accomplished.”

Bates is a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions. He was a two-time All-Big Ten third team honoree, claiming accolades in 2017 and 2018. Bates was voted a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and USA Today in 2016. He was also named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team by ESPN.com and BTN.com. Bates was a two-time Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week choice in his career. He graduated in December with his degree in labor and employment relations.

Connor McGovern

“As a Pennsylvania kid from Lake-Lehman HS and the small town of Larksville, it has been an honor to play for Penn State,” McGovern said. “After much research, thought and discussion, I have decided to declare for the NFL Draft. While I have not had a presence on social media, I want all of Nittany Nation to know your support has meant the world to me. I’d like to thank my family, friends, coaches and advisors who have helped me grow as a person and a player. I completely understand the immense challenge before me and that this decision will invoke various opinions of my readiness. What I am ready to do is to relentlessly work to improve each and every day.”

“Connor has been a great leader for us as a three-year starter,” Franklin said. “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.”

McGovern, who started 34 games in his career, has been a fixture on the offensive line since his true freshman season. He earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2018 and was named the team’s Dick Maginnis Memorial Award winner for the top offensive lineman. In 2016, McGovern became the just the third offensive lineman in Big Ten history to claim a weekly award after earning Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades in November. He was named honorable-mention All-Big Ten Freshman Team by BTN.com.

Kevin Givens

“This community of people is something really special,” Givens said. “I grew as a football player, but more importantly, this place helps you grow as a person. It was and is an honor to play at Penn State. I want to thank my brothers, the coaching staff, administrative support staff and my professors for an incredible three and a half years. To my Wild Dogs, I love y’all. You all have made a dream come true for this kid from Altoona. I will forever cherish my memories here.”

With that being said, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. Although I’m moving on, a piece of my soul will always live in State College. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. WE ARE!”

“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.”

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.

As a sophomore, Givens saw time at both defensive tackle and defensive end. He finished with 23 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Givens was named Campus Insiders Freshman All-America second team, as well as BTN.com and ESPN.com All-Big Ten Freshman Team honors. As a rookie, Givens was third in the Big Ten and tied for 30th nationally with two fumble recoveries. He also had 26 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Shareef Miller

“First, I would like to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play football,” Miller said. “I would like to take the time to thank my mother and my loved ones for their support and sacrifice. Without their unconditional love, I would not be in this position today. I would also like to thank my teammates. I have built some genuine friendships and shared unforgettable experiences with you guys. 

“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. Once again coach, thank you. Coach Spence, my main man, thank you. 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.

“Nittany Nation, thank you for embracing me and my family here at PSU. There is no other fan base in the world like you guys and the energy you bring to stadium every Saturday is unbelievable.”  

“Shareef has been a tremendous leader for us this season both on and off the field,” Franklin said. “He has grown so much since arriving in Happy Valley and I am so proud of the man he has become. We appreciate all of his contributions to our program and we wish him nothing but success as he moves on the NFL!”

A two-time All-Big Ten selection, Miller has been instrumental in helping the Nittany Lions record 40 or more sacks in each of the last four seasons. He has been a fixture in the opposition’s backfield, registering 14.0 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss in his career. Miller has 92 tackles, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in his three seasons. He was a third-team All-Big Ten honoree each of the last two seasons and was named the team’s Co-Defensive MVP in 2018.

As a junior, Miller ranks 10th in the Big Ten in sacks per game with a 0.58 average. He is second on the team with 14.0 tackles for loss and third in sacks with 7.0. He also has four QB hurries and one forced fumble. Miller made a career-best seven tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss, including a solo sack, at Rutgers.

Miller had 37 tackles with 11.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks as a sophomore after posting 22 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks as a redshirt freshman. In his sophomore season, he was a two-time Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week honoree. In his rookie season, Miller was selected BTN.com All-Big Ten Freshman Team honorable mention.

For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and reserving new 2019 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 9 a.m-4:30 p.m.

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