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Penn State’s Class of 2014 Had Equal Shots at the NFL Draft & Transferring

by on May 02, 2019 8:00 PM

When it comes to the NFL Draft, Penn State’s Class of 2014 out-kicked the average NCAA coverage.

Counting the three players selected last week — Trace McSorley, Amani Oruwariye and Nick Scott — eight of the 25 players in James Franklin’s initial class were drafted by the NFL from 2016-18.

That’s 32%. Which is far above the average for college football:

Just 3.9% of all 16,346 draft-eligible college football players last year were selected in the NFL Draft, according to the NCAA. (That’s 1 in 25.)

In the FBS, 6.7% were drafted.

And among Power 5 Conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SC — just 11% of all players were drafted.

So, Penn State's 1 in 3 is pretty darn good.

But when you figure in NFL draftees and Nittany Lions (including transfers) who were invited to NFL camps as free agents, the number jumps to 18 of the 25 — meaning a freshman arriving on campus five years ago had a 72% chance of at least getting what is, in essence, a job interview with the NFL.

Thus far, eight from that class have played in an NFL game. Nine more still have a shot.

And all of that of that is with two recruits from Penn State’s Class of 2014 still playing college football. Only they are no longer Nittany Lions:

Defensive end Torrence Brown, who did not play in 2018 after taking a “medical retirement,” will play at Southern Miss in 2019. And running back Mark Allen, pending NCAA approval of a sixth year of eligibility, will play at Duquesne in 2019.

There is a caveat:

Three of those 10 free agents found their pathway to an NFL camp by leaving Happy Valley. Troy Reeder, a starter at linebacker as a Penn State freshman, left for Delaware and was all-conference. Offensive tackle Noah Beh also transferred to Delaware. Quarterback Michael O’Connor, who transferred to the University of British Columbia, where he won a collegiate national championship. All three were invited to NFL camps after this year’s draft.

In all, seven of the 25 members of the Class of 2014 left Penn State for another school before completing their eligibility. In addition to the aforementioned quintet, that list includes defensive lineman Antoine White, who left for Albany, and cornerback Daquan Worley (Duquesne).

50/50 BALL

In raw numbers, then, freshmen in Penn State’s Class of 2014 had almost an equal chance of getting drafted (32%) as they did transferring from Penn State before their eligibility was up (28%).

As noted earlier, it was Frankln’s first class of recruits at Penn State. He was officially hired on Jan. 11, 2014, and 25 days later, CJF had his first class at PSU.

Nine of the players committed and signed with Franklin; 16 others had verbally committed to Bill O’Brien and stayed under Franklin.

As a group, they had a 45-21 record, a Big Ten title, two New Year’s Day bowl appearances and five postseason appearances overall, a high-water ranking of No. 2, and a 3-12 record against East division foes Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State — all after entering school under the cloud of NCAA sanctions.

(An important question: How many received their degrees? It is a fairly extensive list — in fact, some players got two degrees — but at the risk of leaving out a few people, especially those who transferred, unfortunately I can’t reliably report that figure.)

Here’s a breakdown of Penn State’s Class of 2014 by category:

DRAFTED BY THE NFL (8) — Marcus Allen (5th,2018, Pittsburgh), Troy Apke (2nd round, 2018, Washington), Christian Campbell (6th, 2018, Arizona), Mike Gesicki (2nd,2018, Miami), Chris Godwin (3rd, 2017, Tampa Bay), Trace McSorley (6th, 2019, Baltimore), Amani Oruwariye (5th, 2019, Detroit), Nick Scott (7th, 2019, LA Rams).

FREE AGENT/NFL CAMP (10) — Tarow Barney (NY Jets), Noah Beh (Kansas City), Saaed Blacknall (Oakland), Jason Cabinda (Oakland), Koa Farmer (Oakland), Grant Haley (NY Giants), Michael O’Connor (Seattle), Troy Reeder (LA Rams), Jonathan Thomas (Cinncinati), DeAndre Thompkins (Phila.).

PLAYED IN NFL/REGULAR SEASON (8) — Allen, Apke, Blacknall, Cabinda, Campbell, Gesicki, Godwin, Haley.

INJURY ENDED COLLEGE CAREER (2) — Brendan Brosnan, Chance Sorrell. (Brown “retired” from playing football at Penn State in 2018, but will return to the sport to play for Southern Miss in 2019.

TRANSFERRED (7) — Mark Allen (Duquesne), Beh (Delaware), Torrence Brown (Southern Miss), O’Connor (Univ. of British Columbia), Reeder (Delaware), Antoine White (Albany), Worley (Duquesne).

PENN STATE STARTS (18-379) — Apke (14), Marcus Allen (46), Mark Allen (1), Barney (1), Blacknall (16), Brown (7), Cabinda (36), Campbell (16), Farmer (28), Gesicki (36), Godwin (28), Haley (35), McSorley (40), Oruwariye (13), Reeder (11), Scott (15), Thompkins (21), Chasz Wright (16).

COMMITTED TO FRANKLIN (9) — Blacknall, Brosnan, Brown, Campbell, Farmer, Haley, McSorley, Oruwariye, Sorrell.

VERBAL COMMITTED TO O’BRIEN (16) — Marcus Allen, Mark Allen, Apke, Barney, Beh, Cabinda, Gesicki, Godwin, O’Connor, Reeder, Scott, Thomas, Thompkins, White, Worley, Wright.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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