In lieu of a traditional NFL combine and pro workouts, Penn Staters will have one chance to prove themselves Thursday.
The blue and white’s Pro Day, slated to begin at 11 a.m. on the Big Ten Network, will feature eight players and last approximately two hours with representatives from each NFL team in attendance at Holuba Hall.
Here are the biggest storylines for Thursday’s on-campus gauntlet of tests as a handful of Nittany Lions look to cement their names on draft boards.
Rivalry between Oweh and Parsons
The two Penn State players projected to go the earliest come draft time in late April, Micah Parsons and Jayson Oweh may have once been teammates on the gridiron.
But they definitely aren’t on the track.
Each heralded as a dynamic athlete, both Parsons and Oweh believe they’re going to tally the best 40-yard dash time.
In early September, the two Nittany Lions competed in their own makeshift competition — with the linebacker Parsons barely edging out the defensive end Oweh in a 20-yard race.
“Y’all know who the 40 champ is tho,” Oweh said in the Twitter caption after his loss.
Well, we’ll find out Thursday who the undisputed king is in the 40.
Tight end Pat Freiermuth was putting together a solid argument as one of the top tight end prospects in all of college football in 2020.
Through just four games, the Merrimac, Massachusetts, native had already turned in 23 receptions for 310 yards and one touchdown.
That was all before he went down with a torn labrum.
Freiermuth didn’t see another snap in the eventual 4-5 campaign for the blue and white, and he also hasn’t added to his tape since then, either.
While it’s uncertain just how much the tight end known as “Baby Gronk” is going to participate Thursday, whatever he does will certainly contribute to where he lands in the upcoming draft.
Steven Gonzalez returns
When Penn State released its Pro Day lineup, every name was expected — except for one.
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE
The Big Ten appears to have taken a big step to getting its fans back into sporting events.
Offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez, who graduated in 2018 and played as a redshirt senior in the 2019 season, is returning to Happy Valley to partake in the on-campus workouts.
After five seasons in Happy Valley, Gonzalez didn’t have a chance to demonstrate his skill set in the combine or Penn State’s Pro Day in 2020, as both were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, Gonzalez went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft and spent time with the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason — but didn’t carve out a spot on the 53-man roster come the regular season.
So even though the offensive lineman has technically been a professional for almost a year, he’ll have a shot to show a wide variety of teams his abilities in the trenches.
Plenty of cases to be made
Aside from the top three Nittany Lion prospects in Parsons, Oweh and Freiermuth, there are still plenty of names to watch Thursday.
Four other Penn Staters who competed in 2020 — safety Lamont Wade, defensive end Shaka Toney, and offensive linemen Michal Menet and Will Fries — will all look to make their cases as draft prospects.
Without an NFL combine, the Penn State Pro Day may be the last shot for this quartet to make their presences felt.
All four of these Nittany Lions are projected to be mid-to-late picks, or even go undrafted, when the draft rolls around in just over a month.
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE