Penn State Football

All-Big Ten teams: What were the coaches thinking with DE Yetur Gross-Matos?

Franklin proud Nittany Lions and how they could send off the seniors

Penn State football coach James Franklin talks about being able to send the seniors off the right way, and recaps the season after the win over Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.
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Penn State football coach James Franklin talks about being able to send the seniors off the right way, and recaps the season after the win over Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

Three of Penn State’s defensive players earned spots on the All-Big Ten team on Tuesday night, with five others earning honorable mentions. But one selection just didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was a unanimous first-team selection, while defensive end Shareef Miller was a unanimous third-team pick. Fair enough. The issue came with defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, who was a first-team media selection — but somehow, some way — a third-team coaches selection.

Third team? Really?

Maybe it’s because Gross-Matos’ name is hard to pronounce. Or maybe it’s because the sophomore came out of nowhere this season to become arguably the Nittany Lions’ best defensive player. Ignorance can be the only actual defense here.

If you watched Gross-Matos or, heck, even glanced at the stats once — you’d know he’s no third-teamer.

Let’s compare and contrast. Here are Gross-Matos’ numbers this season: 54 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 8 sacks. Here are the stats from first-team coaches selection Rashan Gary of Michigan: 44 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks. And here are Ohio State second-teamer Chase Young’s numbers: 29 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks.

You don’t need an advanced mathematics degree like John Urschel to notice that one group of numbers is not like the other. The third-teamer has better marks in every single category.

Gross-Matos is second in the conference in tackles for loss and fifth in sacks. But somehow, according to the Big Ten coaches, at least eight linemen in the conference are better than him.

It’d be great to ask for an explanation from a Big Ten coach. But the response would likely be somewhere along the lines of, “Oops, that was a mistake.” Or “I don’t pick those; I just sign off on them like the top-25 rankings.” Because this is pretty black and white.

It’s a mistake that Gross-Matos is a third-team pick. Heck, it’s a mild disgrace.

Even if you’re trying to look beyond the stat sheet, Gross-Matos’ case only becomes stronger. The underclassman improved as the year wore on and, in the last seven games, has 16 tackles for loss to go along with six sacks.

Against Maryland this past weekend, he was tasked with stopping sweeps and runs that bounced outside. He helped contain the Terps’ then-No. 17 rushing attack — an attack that gashed Ohio State for 341 yards — to just 74 yards.

“Maryland was a big jet team, and the way he stopped the jet — it was like taking candy away,” teammate and linebacker Koa Farmer said Saturday.

Gross-Matos may not be getting the credit he deserves right now. But it’ll come. The coaches royally screwed up this season — there’s no other way to say it — but the 6-foot-5 defensive end with the reported 4.52 40-yard dash will be virtually impossible to ignore in 2019.

Even if he was ignored in 2018.


Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (99) runs down Maryland wide receiver Jeshaun Jones (6) during the game against Maryland at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. No. 12 Penn State won 38-3. Linsey Fagan

The All-Big Ten defensive teams are listed below, with Penn State players bolded. The offensive teams will be released Wednesday evening.


DLChase Winovich, MichiganA.J. Epenesa, IowaAnthony Nelson, Iowa
DLRashan Gary, MichiganCarter Coughlin, MinnesotaRaequan Williams, Michigan State
DLKenny Willekes, Michigan StateJoe Gaziano, NorthwesternYetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
DLDre’Mont Jones, Ohio StateChase Young, Ohio StateShareef Miller, Penn State
LBDevin Bush, MichiganTre Watson, MarylandBlake Cashman, Minnesota
LBJoe Bachie, Michigan StateMarkus Bailey, PurdueRyan Connelly, Wisconsin
LBPaddy Fisher, NorthwesternT.J. Edwards, WisconsinAndrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin
DBAmani Hooker, IowaAntoine Brooks Jr., MarylandDavid Dowell, Michigan State
DBLavert Hill, MichiganDarnell Savage Jr., MarylandDicaprio Bootle, Nebraska
DBDavid Long, MichiganJosh Metellus, MichiganMontre Hartage, Northwestern
DBAmani Oruwariye, Penn StateJustin Layne, Michigan StateD’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin

Honorable Mentions: INDIANA: Jonathan Crawford, Marcelino Ball; IOWA: Jake Gervase, Matt Nelson; MARYLAND: Byron Cowart, Tino Ellis; MICHIGAN: Bryan Mone, Josh Ross, Josh Uche, Kahleke Hudson, Tyree Kinnel; MICHIGAN STATE: Andrew Dowell, Khari Willis, Mike Panasiuk; MINNESOTA: Jacob Huff; NEBRASKA: Carlos Davis, Luke Gifford, Mohamed Barry; NORTHWESTERN: Blake Gallagher, J.R. Pace, Nate Hall; OHIO STATE: Damon Arnette, Jeffrey Okudah, Jonathon Cooper, Jordan Fuller, Kendall Sheffield, Malik Harrison, Robert Landers, Tuf Borland; PENN STATE: Garrett Taylor, John Reid, Robert Windsor; PURDUE: Antonio Blackmon, Derrick Barnes, Jacob Thineneman, Lorenzo Neal; RUTGERS: Saquan Hampton



A.J. Epenesa, Iowa

Anthony Nelson, Iowa

Raequan Williams, Michigan State


Chase Winovich, Michigan

Rashan Gary, MichiganJoe Gaziano, Northwestern
DLKenny Willekes, Michigan StateCarter Coughlin, MinnesotaChase Young, Ohio State

Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio StateShareef Miller, Penn State
LBTre Watson, MarylandJoe Bachie, Michigan StateMohamed Barry, Nebraska
LBDevin Bush, MichiganBlake Cashman, MinnesotaBlake Gallagher, Northwestern
LBT.J. Edwards, WisconsinPaddy Fisher, NorthwesternMarkus Bailey, Purdue
DBAmani Hooker, Iowa

Darnell Savage Jr., Maryland

David Long, Michigan
DBLavert Hill, Michigan

Josh Metellus, Michigan

Khari Willis, Michigan State
DBMontre Hartage, NorthwesternJustin Layne, Michigan StateDicaprio Bootle, Nebraska
DBAmani Oruwariye, Penn StateJordan Fuller, Ohio StateD’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin

Honorable Mentions: ILLINOIS: Del’Shawn Phillips, Bobby Roundtree; INDIANA: Marcelino Ball, Jonathan Crawford; IOWA: Jake Gervase, Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson, Geno Stone; MARYLAND: Antoine Brooks Jr., Byron Cowart, Tino Ellis; MICHIGAN: Khaleke Hudson, Tyree Kinnel, Kwity Paye, Josh Uche; MICHIGAN STATE: Andrew Dowell, David Dowell, Mike Panasiuk; MINNESOTA: Jacob Huff; NEBRASKA: Khalil Davis, Luke Gifford; NORTHWESTERN: Nate Hall, H.R. Pace; OHIO STATE: Damon Arnette, Tuf Borland, Nick Bosa, Jonathan Cooper, Malik Harrison, Kendall Sheffield, Pete Werner; PENN STATE: Micah Parsons, John Reid, Nick Scott, Garrett Taylor, Robert Windsor; PURDUE: Antonio Blackmon, Kenneth Major, Lorenzo Neal, Jacob Thineneman; RUTGERS: Saquan Hampton, Trevor Morris; WISCONSIN: Ryan Connelly, Andrew Van Ginkel