As per BSD tradition, we took a look back at the 2018 season and voted for the top 10 players of the year. Each staff member had the opportunity to vote, offering a top 10 list with the first pick being awarded 10 points, second pick being awarded nine points, and so on. We begin with numbers 7-10, a collection of three players who will look to play on Sundays in 2019, and one current Nittany Lion who will look to skyrocket up this list.
10. OT Ryan Bates
We said it once, we said it twice, we said it at least a thousand times- 2018 was going to finally be the year the offensive line transformed into a major strength with a collection of depth and talent. It didn’t quite play out that way, with fans scratching their heads wondering when we will see a truly dominant offensive line in Happy Valley.
While it wasn’t what we were hoping for, Ryan Bates put together a mostly outstanding season. Once again, he was Penn State’s most consistent performer on the line, and is the only offensive lineman to make the list. Bates was a stalwart at tackle for three seasons. He was named a freshman All-American in 2016 and provided key leadership throughout his career. Bates decided it was time to move on and prepare for the NFL, and will be waiting to hear his name called at some point during the NFL Draft.
9. DT Kevin Givens
Perhaps we became too accustomed to Givens’ high-level of play as he had a quietly fantastic 2018 season that saw the defense take major strides and completely exceed expectations.
Opposing offenses had to choose from one of two ways to deal with Givens- either focus on slowing him down, allowing Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller and Robert Windsor to run wild and create havoc, or to put a single man on Givens and hope for the best. With the latter, the outcome was typically a big day for Givens where he continuously blew up plays and made life miserable for the quarterback. Givens finished with 33 tackles in his final season at Penn State, with nearly a third coming behind the line of scrimmage. Like Bates, Givens decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and will look to play on Sundays in 2019.
8. CB Amani Oruwariye
Oruwariye had become a regular in the Penn State secondary, but really came into his own in 2017 and 2018. The ball was never quite safe when thrown is Oruwariye’s direction thanks to his fantastic combinations of size, length and athleticism.
Oruwariye led the team with 12 pass breakups, and tied for the lead with three interceptions in 2018. He also finished eight in tackles with 51, with two coming behind the line of scrimmage. It was quite the senior campaign for Oruwariye, where he landed as a first-time All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media. Oruwariye has impressed at every turn, and is rapidly rising up draft board where he may even hear his name called by the end of round one.
7. Micah Parsons
Finally...someone who will be in a Nittany Lions uniform in 2019 (and 2020! And maybe 2021! Ok, probably not 2021...)!
Parsons entered the season as one of the most-hyped commitments in program history. He saw immediate playing time as a true freshman, and eventually took over the majority of snaps from senior starter Koa Farmer. His off-the-charts athleticism was apparent, but you could see the progress each week as the game started to slow down for him. Towards the end of the season, we saw a few Lavar-esque plays that suggest what is on the horizon as Parsons seeks to become a game-changer in the mold of a Von Miller or Khalil Mack.
Parsons managed to lead the team in tackles despite being a true freshman who wasn’t even technically a starter. he also contributed five TFLs, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbled- all numbers that seem a near-certainty to rise immensely as Parsons is unleashed as a true sophomore.
Check back on Wednesday as we continue the countdown!