Penn State Football

Could dismissed linebacker Manny Bowen return to Penn State?

James Franklin discusses middle linebacker possibilities

James Franklin, speaking to reporters, mentioned Jan Johnson as a contender to replace Jason Cabinda.
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James Franklin, speaking to reporters, mentioned Jan Johnson as a contender to replace Jason Cabinda.

Rumors have swirled in recent months that former Penn State linebacker Manny Bowen, who was dismissed in December, might return to the program. James Franklin neither confirmed nor denied those rumblings on Monday afternoon.

Franklin was asked at Big Ten media days if Bowen has been added to the roster or if his return was even possible. The coach didn’t entertain the questions.

“We haven’t announced any roster changes,” Franklin said. “We don’t live in a world of rumors and innuendos. If the roster changes, it changes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

As a refresher: Bowen was suspended prior to the 2017 Rose Bowl for a violation of team rules. The veteran linebacker also missed the final three regular season games of last season before being dismissed, along with wide receiver Irvin Charles, days before the Fiesta Bowl.

At the time, Penn State released the following statement: “Manny Bowen and Irvin Charles are no longer members of the Penn State football team due to a violation of team rules. We appreciate their contributions to the program and wish them success in the future.”

Of course, Penn State could really use Bowen in 2018. With Jason Cabinda gone, there is a massive hole at middle linebacker to fill. Franklin said Monday that Cabinda’s replacement has to be a “problem solver” and “eraser that’s going to give everyone confidence.” With 21 starts and 137 tackles to his name, Bowen would bring that to Brent Pry’s defense.

But will Bowen get a second chance? Franklin said he’s focused on players currently on Penn State’s roster — and as of Monday, Bowen is not one of them.

“We could bring up probably 30 guys that are no longer on the roster and discuss whether we think they’re back or not,” Franklin said. “I’m more than happy to talk about the guys that are currently on the roster. If we have any changes to the roster — deletions or additions — Kris (Petersen, assistant athletic director for strategic communications) will make announcements when appropriate.”