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Penn State Preseason Top 10: No. 9 Steven Gonzalez

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The massive interior lineman will bring experience and stability to an offensive line in flux

Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s time for our annual preseason top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A 1st place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on. Yesterday began the countdown with Sean Clifford and Blake Gillikin tied for tenth, and full voting results will be published at a later date.

How He Got Here

Steven Gonzalez joined the Nittany Lions as part of the 2015 recruiting class. A four-star lineman, Gonzalez was projected to the interior of the line from the start. After redshirting in 2015, Steven appeared in 11 games in 2016 with three starts, his first start coming against Rutgers. In both 2017 and 2018, Gonzalez started every game. After the 2017 season, Steven was named first-team All-Big Ten by Pro Football Focus, and following the 2018 season, he was named honorable-mention All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

Following a solid 2018 season, Gonzalez flirted with the idea of declaring for the NFL a year early, along with fellow linemen Ryan Bates and Connor McGovern, but instead opted to return to Penn State for his redshirt senior season.

What To Expect In 2019

With the aforementioned departures of Bates and McGovern, the offensive line is in a state of flux for 2019. Gonzalez returns as a starter alongside center Michal Menet and right tackle Will Fries. But both left tackle and right guard will be manned by new faces (and truthfully, Fries at right tackle isn’t a sure thing either).

Steven will be relied upon to use his age and experience to steady the line. As the elder statesman, he’ll need to provide mentorship to the new left tackle, and keep an eye out for any letdowns on the left side of the line.

Gonzalez has always been solid in run blocking, but has been left wanting in pass protection. Make no mistake - if he gets his hands on you, you’re done. But he’s never been particularly mobile or agile, which may have something to do with his size - according to the official Penn State site, he’s currently weighing in at 349 pounds. If he’s able to shed a little weight this off season, and get just that much quicker, he’ll be a force on the left side of the line, helping the new left tackle settle into their role, providing protection for Sean Clifford and the stable of running backs Penn State has, and of course and setting himself up well for the NFL draft next spring.