Franklin talks about Gross-Matos being back
Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, a potential top-10 NFL draft pick, missed the entire summer due to a suspension — but James Franklin said Saturday he still expects big things out of the defensive end.
“He’s a mature guy,” the head coach said. “He’s had a great summer, from what I see. He looked great (Friday). I know he’s appreciative of being back. I think he’s going to have a really big year for us; as the year went on last year, he really kind of separated himself into one of the elite ends of college football.”
Gross-Matos finished with 20 tackles for loss last season, becoming the 11th Nittany Lion to ever hit that milestone. (Not too bad for a first-year starter.) But, following the spring, he and running back Journey Brown were suspended this summer due to a violation of team rules.
Per Franklin, their suspensions ended Thursday. Camp opened Friday.
“We’re very pleased with him and his development, and his appreciation for being at Penn State and his appreciation for being a part of our football program, and his attitude and approach,” Franklin said, referring to Gross-Matos.
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.
Still, Gross-Matos is expected to start in the opener. And Franklin intimated that the past is now behind Gross-Matos. In fact, the coach lauded the end’s maturity and referred to his background. “I think, because of that background, he probably has a deeper sense of appreciation from the rest of us,” he said.
Gross-Matos lost both his father and brother early in life, and that story has been told both by ESPN.com and the Centre Daily Times. He’s a soft-spoken player who’s often praised for his non-stop motor, and Franklin was pleased with how he showed up to camp.
Franklin said Gross-Matos checked in about 255 pounds, although he was up to 265 pounds at one point this offseason.
Gross-Matos and the Nittany Lions will open the season at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 31 against Idaho.