Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, a projected first-round NFL draft pick in 2020, and running back Journey Brown were suspended for the summer but will return to the team in time for camp next month, according to head coach James Franklin.
Franklin was mum Friday on specific details — such as exactly why the two were suspended — and the coach would only say at Big Ten media days that their suspensions were the results of a violation of team rules.
When asked exactly about Gross-Matos, Franklin simply said, “Yetur was suspended from the team for a violation of team rules at the end of spring for the summer, and we’re expecting him back Aug. 1.”
Gross-Matos has quickly risen to become the Nittany Lions’ biggest attention-getting player this offseason. His moving life story, about the loss of his father and brother, was run prominently on ESPN on Father’s Day. He was one of five Big Ten East players named to the conference’s preseason list Thursday, and he’s on the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.
The reason for Gross-Matos’ and Brown’s suspensions was not clear. However, at the end of May, State College police executed a search warrant on Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct in connection with a January fight at a university fraternity that sent four to the hospital.
According to documents, as many as nine football players are believed to be involved. However, only two — cornerback Tariq Castro-Field and walk-on wideout Henry Fessler — were charged, with disorderly conduct. It’s not known if either Gross-Matos or Brown was involved.
“We follow our university process that would be involved for any students,” Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said when asked Friday about the fraternity incident. “And that’s what we’ve done.”
Gross-Matos broke out last season, tallying 20 tackles for loss to go along with eight sacks and 54 tackles. CBS Sports called him a potential top-10 pick in next year’s NFL draft. Brown was praised throughout the spring and lauded for his improvement from last season.
Franklin eventually relented and intimated that, because the suspensions end Aug. 1, Gross-Matos and Brown should be available to play and/or start Week 1.
Penn State’s season kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 31 against Idaho.