Penn State offensive guard Connor McGovern, a projected second- or third-rounder, will forgo his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2019 NFL draft as an underclassman.
The 6-foot-5, 323-pound prospect — ranked as the No. 1 offensive guard on the big board of ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. — announced his decision to leave Happy Valley via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
“After much research, thought and discussion, I have decided to declare for the NFL draft,” McGovern wrote. “While I have not had a presence on social media, I want all of Nittany Nation to know your support has meant the world to me.”
McGovern’s growth this past season, as a true junior, has been undeniable. He was named to Pro Football Focus’ National Team of the Week after the Wisconsin win — he didn’t give up a single QB pressure on 36 pass-blocking snaps — and he was named to PFF’s Big Ten Team of the Week after dominating Rutgers.
The Pennsylvania native was a three-year starter who played in 39 career games while starting in 35. In spite of not having generational running back Saquon Barkley this past season, the 323-pound lineman helped better the team’s average-yards-per-carry by nearly one-third of a yard compared to 2017.
McGovern made a name for himself early in his career, starting nine games as a true freshman. His versatility, the ability to move from center to guard and back, was one of his trademarks.
“His ability to grow as a leader, his ability to grow football IQ-wise from the offense they were running in high school to what they’re doing now, has been tremendous,” offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne said last month. “I love watching how versatile he is for us, playing center, playing guard, and he could even play tackle for us. So he’s done some great things.”
McGovern was named the team’s best offensive lineman at the team’s annual awards banquet. But the good news for the Nittany Lions is that they’ll return four other starters on the line in 2019. Soon-to-be redshirt sophomore Mike Miranda started against Maryland with an injury to Michal Menet and is a strong candidate to become Penn State’s new starter.
McGovern committed to the Nittany Lions in March 2015, enrolled early in 2016 and made his first career start on Oct. 1, 2016, against Minnesota. He’s been a relatively consistent force ever since.
And, now, he could be one of the first Nittany Lions off the board when the NFL draft kicks off April 25-27.