The Lone Lion

The Lone Lion

The NFL draft was held over the weekend and as much as we want to leave the “dark ages” of Penn State football behind, it was impossible to watch this year’s draft without noticing the after-effects of that period in Penn State football. For those that watched, the first round was another shut-out for the Nittany Lions, who last had a first-rounder taken in 2010 when Jared Odrick got the call from Miami. It wasn't until mid-way through the third round that Chris Godwin finally had his name called and the Tampa Bay Bucs made the all-everything wideout the 84th pick of the draft. They also reunited him with former Nittany Lion Donovan Smith. And folks, that was it. Godwin was the one and only draftee in this class. Garrett Sickels (Indianapolis), Brandon Bell (Cincinnati), Malik Golden (San Francisco), and Evan Schwan (NY Giants) were all signed as undrafted free-agents after the draft wrapped up, but Godwin was the only one announced on the big stage, under the bright lights in Philadelphia. The Lone Lion, if you will. It was a sobering reminder of just how bare the cupboard was in the aftermath of the sanctions.

Godwin was recruited by Bill O'Brien, but played a significant role in the first three years of the Franklin Era. He was a quiet Lion who let his play do the talking and probably doesn’t get all the credit he deserves, even from us. Wideout is the game of football’s glamour position and it’s littered with trash talkers and huge egos. Chris Godwin didn't partake in any of that. On the field, he brought his proverbial lunch box and quietly went to work day in and day out. In short, Chris Godwin was everything that we as Penn Staters take pride in. He was a throwback to what Nittany Lions have always been and a fine example of what Nittany Lions continue to be, despite all the chaos and adversity that defined his time at Penn State.


In next year’s draft, the so-called “Round One Drought” will most certainly end for Nittany Nation. Saquon Barkley is destined to be a top pick, possibly even the No.1 overall, if he decides to leave early like most think he will. Barring any major injuries or complete meltdowns, Marcus Allen has the NFL keenly aware of his talents and penchant for laying the wood on opposing running backs. Both Jason Cabinda and Mike Gesicki have NFL scouts chomping at the bit. Brendan Mahon and Andrew Nelson are high on the list of O-Linemen entering their senior seasons and both Curtis Cothran and Parker Cothren have the ability to make theirs a season to remember. Trace McSorley ended his sophomore year as one of the nation’s most lethal QB's and anything close to a repeat season or better could make his decision to stay or go tough as the talking heads are destined to dissect his NFL potential. Grant Haley is on everyone’s radar and Tyler Davis is as reliable a kicker as there is in football. DaeSean Hamilton had a huge hand in ushering in the FrankLion Era with the monster game he had in Dublin, Ireland back in 2014 and is in good position to end his career on a high note as Penn State looks to fill the shoes of those that Godwin left behind.

As I sat and watched another draft go by with nary a mention of Penn State on day one, it hit me. This time next year, we will join the “Round One” party once again for those who care about such trivial things. James Franklin brought the sexy back to Happy Valley. The cupboard is fully stocked and the talent level back to what it once was. For what it’s worth, Michigan led everyone with 11 picks and Ohio State wasn’t too far behind with seven. As bad as we all wanted to hear the names of Nittany Lions called over the course of this year’s draft, I doubt anyone would trade the numbers our rivals put up over the Big Ten Championship we won back in December. The fact that we won it with only one lone Lion chosen in the aftermath just serves to make it even sweeter than it already was.