(This is the second of a three-part series, for part one, click here.)
Yesterday, we started our yearly countdown of the top 10 players from Penn State football’s season.
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 began with 10-7: Ryan Bates, Kevin Givens, Amani Oruwairye and Micah Parsons.
Today, we give you Nos. 6-4 which include a pair of NFL bound Nittany Lions and one who should be a key contributor on a dynamic offense in 2019.
6. TE Pat Freiermuth
What a pleasant surprise this was. Pat Freiermuth opened the 2018 season as the third tight end on the depth chart and while his size meant he was always likely to play right away, no one knew just how much time he would see.
The true freshman forced his way into more and more playing time immediately and took over as the starter by the time the middle of the season rolled around. He showed fantastic hands and great body control in the air, racking up 26 receptions for 368 yards and eight touchdowns.
Freiermuth’s blocking also stood out as he often cleared holes for Miles Sanders and Trace McSorley.
Along side Zack Kuntz, Nick Bowers and Jon Holland, Freiermuth should help form one of, if not the best tight end groups in the nations.
5. RB Miles Sanders
It was always going to be a tall task to replace the production lost from the departure of Saquon Barkley, but if anybody was up to the task it was Miles Sanders.
The former five-star running back showed everybody why he was so highly touted when he was finally handed the keys to the car in 2018.
Sanders showed off a combination of speed, agility and power in a season in which he carried the ball 220 times for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Woodland Hills (PA) product also pulled in 24 receptions for 139 yards out of the backfield, proving to be a nice safety valve for McSorley.
Sanders’ strong season combined with an impressive showing at the 2019 NFL Draft Combine has pushed him thoroughly into the conversation as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. In his last mock draft, NFL.com’s Peter Schrager had Sanders going at No. 31 to the Los Angeles Rams.
4. DE Shareef Miller
Shareef Miller’s break out at the defensive end position always felt like a matter of when, not if.
The when proved to be 2018 after Miller took over the starting position at weakside defensive end.
Miller, a Philadelphia native, started a career-high 12 games and posted career highs in tackles (25), sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (25).
With the emergence of Yetur Gross-Matos on the opposite side of the line, the two formed one of the most formidable duos in the Big Ten.
Following the season, Miller declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s currently projected as a fifth round pick but a strong showing at the combine could see him move up boards before next month’s draft.
Check back on Thursday as we continue the countdown!