Penn State defensive end Shareef Miller, a redshirt junior, has officially declared early for the NFL draft and will not return to Happy Valley for his final season.
Miller made his announcement Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. The two-year starter played in 40 career games.
“Nittany Nation, thank you for embracing me and my family here at PSU,” he wrote. “There is no other fan base in the world like you guys and the energy you bring to the stadium every Saturday is unbelievable. I stand here beyond blessed. After careful consideration with my family and coaches, I have decided to declare for the 2019 NFL draft.”
The decision isn’t a surprise and, in fact, is a long time coming. Miller said throughout his career that his goal was to provide for his family, which hails from inner-city Philadelphia. And in early December, during the Citrus Bowl media day at Beaver Stadium, he acknowledged his choice was already made — “but it’d be selfish for me to talk about what I’m doing,” he said.
(Historically, James Franklin’s players have announced their NFL draft decisions after the bowl.)
The two-time all-conference selection is widely regarded as a Day 3 draft selection or potential undrafted free agent. He finished this past season with 41 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Defensive coordinator Brent Pry offered him quite a bit of praise last month.
“I’m so pleased with the year Shareef had,” Pry said. “When you go into the season, there are certain things you want to see happen that you believe in your heart needs to happen for a young man to reach his potential — and one of those things was the way Shareef approached practice and approached his role on this team.
“And as the year unfolded, he was coaching players. He was holding them accountable. He was practicing harder and faster than he ever had, and he was understanding the game. He wanted it on his shoulders.”
Miller’s road to Penn State started six years ago. He attended the 2013 White Out game against Michigan, a 43-40 Nittany Lions win after four overtimes. He committed in January 2015 and signed a month later as an upper three-star prospect. His departure along this line will obviously be felt, but as one of Penn State’s deeper position groups, there are plenty of potential replacement candidates — such as vets Shaka Toney, Shane Simmons and Daniel Joseph along with younger players such as Jayson Oweh, Nick Tarburton and true freshman Adisa Isaac.
Miller finishes his career with 100 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks and 15 QB hurries. He also had a safety.