Picks for MVPs and ‘biggest head-scratcher’ in PSU wrap up
Penn State’s regular season is in the books, and the team’s eyes are now on the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl against Kentucky. So we thought this would be the perfect time to look back on the season — and hand out our season awards, like “Biggest head-scratcher” and “Offensive MVP.”
OFFENSIVE MVP: QB TRACE MCSORLEY
Statistically, this may have been McSorley’s worst season of the past three — but there’s no debating his value to this team. At worst, he was still the second-best signalcaller in the conference in 2018.
He guided comebacks against Appalachian State, Indiana and Iowa. And he received universal praise from opposing coaches for his leadership and grit. Against Iowa, for example, in the same breath ABC broadcaster Steve Levy said the Hawkeyes knew an injured McSorley couldn’t run, he took off for a 51yard rushing score. That counts for something — as do 27 total TDs and 3,000plus rushing/passing yards.
DEFENSIVE MVP: DE YETUR GROSS-MATOS
Shareef Miller fought through double teams and Shaka Toney proved to be more than just a sack artist, but it was Yetur GrossMatos — a first-year starter — who led Penn State’s frightening defensive line.
The freakish 6-foot-5 sophomore racked up 20 tackles for loss (second in the Big Ten) and eight sacks. Sixteen of those TFLs came in Penn State’s final seven games.
Despite being snubbed by the coaches, GrossMatos was named a firstteam All-Big Ten selection by the media, and rightfully so. He outproduced Michigan’s Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary. And on a national scale, GrossMatos’ 20 TFLs ranked eighth, ahead of Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Florida State’s Brian Burns — all of whom will be firstround picks come April.
Gross-Matos set himself up to be in that category in 2019.
TRUE FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: LB MICAH PARSONS
Tight end Pat Freiermuth deserves a big shout-out here, but this one wasn’t close. Parsons made some truly incredible sideline-to-
sideline tackles. And no one’s growth and progress was more evident throughout the season than the Harrisburg native.
It says quite a bit that Parsons leads the team in tackles (69) when it took him several weeks to earn a majority of the snaps. It’s unique for a freshman to show flashes of dominance like Parsons has ... but Parsons is a unique athlete. He should be a freshman All-American.
Penn State seniors Amani Oruwariye, Nick Scott, Mark Allen, Trace McSorley, Koa Farmer and Johnathan Thomas laugh last month as they take a lap around Beaver Stadium.