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Penn State Preaseason Top 10: No. 1 Yetur Gross-Matos

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There was only one obvious choice for the top spot.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Citrus Bowl - Kentucky v Penn State Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on. Last week, we began the countdown with Sean Clifford and Blake Gillikin tied for tenth, Steven Gonzalez at ninth, John Reid at eighth, Robert Windsor and Cam Brown tied for sixth, Tariq Castro-Fields at five, Pat Freiermuth coming in at #4, KJ Hamler landing at #3 and Micah Parsons at the #2 spot.

How we got here:

Yetur Gross-Matos’ potential has always been there. It’s what made him such a hot commodity back during his recruitment. After all, the Fredericksburg, Virginia native finished as a top 200 recruit nationally and a top five strong-side defensive end in the country. He possessed intimidating size at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, to go along with incredible arm length that is just unfair when it comes to him bringing down ball carriers or getting after the quarterback.

At the start of last season, most fans really didn’t know what to make of Gross-Matos. While he played in all 13 games as a freshman, he only recorded 17 tackles which included just a pair of TFLs and 0.5 sacks on the season. That being said, it didn’t take long for him to show fans who exactly he was on the field come 2018. He finished his sophomore year campaign with 54 total tackles, 20 TFLs, and eight sacks in a breakout year. For his efforts, he was named first team All-Big Ten by the media and second team by the Big Ten coaches.

What to expect in 2019:

Entering this season, Gross-Matos will be expected to be one of the leaders of the defense due to his veteran experience at this point in his career. A quiet and soft spoken player, it will be interesting to see if Gross-Matos can take a leadership position by the horns, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here because there is no doubt in our minds that any given Saturday, Penn State’s best player on the field will be Gross-Matos.

What are fair expectations for Gross-Matos? It’s hard to say, but a good region to start for Gross-Matos in 2019 will be around what he put up last year — that being, lots of TFLs and approaching double-digit sacks. A special player, the proverbial “the sky is the limit” is 100% true in the case of Gross-Matos. He’ll surely be in the running for first team All-Big Ten honors again, and should also push for national honors, too.