We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Friday, Jan. 6. Let’s get started.
Godspeed to Godwin
There could be no better time for Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin to declare for the NFL draft, as he did Thursday. His final college game, a nine-catch, 187-yard, two-touchdown explosion in Monday’s Rose Bowl loss to USC, was his best.
He will never be a hotter commodity, never be more in demand. In some ways, he represents the counter-argument to the Christian McCaffrey/Leonard Fournette approach to the bowls: While there is always the specter of injury – witness Michigan tight end Jake Butt – it is also possible to improve one’s resume.
Godwin did just that. While there were times this season when he seemed underused in Joe Moorhead’s spread-the-wealth offense – notably in the Oct. 8 victory over Maryland, when he wasn’t so much as targeted – it also seemed the Lions turned to him when they were most in need of a splash play. And that was very much the case against USC.
With his team trailing 20-7, he turned a sideline tap dance into a 30-yard touchdown in the second quarter, then made a juggling grab en route to a 72-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
He also had six catches for 133 yards in last year’s loss to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl, and seven for 140 in the Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College as a freshman. That’s 22 receptions for 460 yards and three TDs in three bowl games, further evidence of his ability to deliver in the biggest moments.
Godwin, whose 59 catches led the team this season, finished his career with 154, sixth on the school’s all-time list. His yardage total (2,421) is fourth. He also scored 18 touchdowns, 11 this season.
Now he will join another list – that of PSU wide receivers in the NFL. Here are the best of the lot in the Big Ten era (1993-present):
- Bobby Engram (1996-2010, Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, 650 catches, 7,751 yards, 35 touchdowns) – Not the swiftest guy, but sure-handed and tough.
- Joe Jurevicius (1998-2007, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Cleveland, 323-4,119-29) – Won a Super Bowl with the Bucs in 2003, and reached one two years later, when he was Engram’s teammate on the Seahawks. Stood 6 feet 5, but he could really run.
- Bryant Johnson (2003-11, Arizona, San Francisco, Detroit, Houston, 314-3,938-16) – Often forgotten on the list of all-time great PSU receivers. Another good-sized guy (at 6-3, 212). Excelled as a slot guy in the NFL.
- Allen Robinson (2014-present, Jacksonville, 201-2,831-22) – Made the Pro Bowl after an 80-catch season in 2015. Finished with 73 this season. Barring injury, he will vault to the top of this list before too long.
- Jordan Norwood (2009-present, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Denver, 79-844-2) – His career has been a study in persistence. He played one game for the Eagles in 2009, and did not crack a roster in 2010, ’13 or ’14. He has seemingly found a home in Denver, and contributed a 61-yard punt return in last year’s Super Bowl victory over Carolina.
One last thought on Godwin: Penn State has a wealth of talent remaining at wide receiver, as discussed by the Land of 10’s Corey Masisak and shown in this chart tweeted out by Derek Levarse of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader:
— Derek Levarse (@TLdlevarse) January 6, 2017
Wrestlers resume season
No. 2 Penn State, idle since Dec. 11, opens Big Ten competition at No. 12 Minnesota on Friday, then visits No. 7 Nebraska on Sunday.
The Lions (4-0), who boast 10 wrestlers ranked by InterMat (six of them undefeated), were unable to participate at the Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18 in Reno because of inclement weather. They sent six non-starters to last weekend’s Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn., and one of them, freshman Mark Hall, earned a title at 174 pounds.
Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf are both 8-0 and ranked No. 1 at 149 and 157, respectively. Bo Nickal (7-0) is No. 2 at 184, while Nick Suriano (7-0) is No. 4 at 125. Nick Nevills and Matt McCutcheon are also 7-0, earning respective rankings of No. 7 at 285 and No. 13 at 197.
The Lions’ other ranked wrestlers are 165-pounder Vincenzo Joseph (7-1, No. 5), 141-pounder Jimmy Gulibon (6-4, No. 12), 133-pounder Jered Cortez (6-2, No. 13) and 174-pounder Shakur Rasheed (6-1, No. 15).
Hockey team also returns
PSU, ranked second in hockey, also returns from an extended break. The Lions (13-1-1), who last played Dec. 2, visit No. 11 Ohio State (9-3-4) on Friday and Saturday.
The break – 34 days – was the longest in school history by 11 days.
Penn State boasts the nation’s most prolific attack (4.87 goals a game). The Lions are led by freshman Denis Smirnov, whose 27 points and 17 assists lead the Big Ten, and Andrew Sturtz, whose 13 goals are also most in the conference.