Bowen, Charles kicked off Penn State team

Junior linebacker Manny Bowen and sophomore receiver Irvin Charles have had their Penn State careers come to an end because of disciplinary reasons.

A spokesperson for PSU said Tuesday that both players are off the squad because of a violation of team rules. It’s unclear what the two did to be kicked off the team.

“We appreciate their contributions to the program and wish them success in the future,” the spokesperson added.

Bowen was suspended for the final three games of the regular season for undisclosed reasons, while Charles was a game-time decision for the finale against Maryland and did play.

Bowen also had to sit out last year’s Rose Bowl for undisclosed reasons. He started 12 games last season and the first nine this year before running into trouble.

Charles came to PSU as a highly touted receiver but never lived up to the billing and was used primarily as a special teams ace this season.

Charles did, however, make one of the biggest plays of the past two seasons for the Lions.

Penn State was 2-2 last season and coming off a 49-10 loss at Michigan, then trailed at home to Minnesota, 13-3, in the third quarter.

The team’s fortunes for that game and the rest of the Big Ten championship season turned when Charles caught a pass deep down the middle from Trace McSorley and turned it into an 80-yard touchdown as the Lions went on to win, 29-26. They never lost again until the Rose Bowl against USC.

“The significance of the play, I didn’t really understand what it really meant until after the season and everybody said the play was the turning point for the season and really got the team going,” Charles said before the Rose Bowl a year ago. “In the heat of the moment, I just thought of it as a touchdown and hopefully we could add on to it.”

Coach James Franklin had repeatedly praised Charles for his work on special teams this season, but the young man was unable to turn that into a meaningful role as a receiver.

What a wild ride

Tight end Mike Gesicki reflected on how much things have changed during his career at PSU.

“When I first committed to Penn State, everything was out and my team wasn’t going to be playing in any bowl games for the next four years,” he said Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. “So to predict that we would be Big Ten champs and be playing in the Rose Bowl and playing in the Fiesta Bowl, back-to-back New Year’s Six bowls, I can’t say that I predicted it because at that time we weren’t permitted to be doing any of this kind of stuff.

“But ultimately everything worked out for us. And now we’re sitting here at the Fiesta Bowl with a great opportunity playing a great opponent on Saturday, and it’s something that I’m really excited about.”

Gesicki himself has enjoyed a memorable career, starting out with some bad memories with several dropped passes in 2015, then becoming one of the top tight ends in program history.

He will be playing his final game Saturday, then it’s off to the NFL.

“I’m not going to change my routine or how I prepare or anything like that that goes into it,” he said. “But when I’m out on that field I’m going to take everything in.

“I’m not going to take a play for granted or take anything for granted when I’m out there. I’m going to cherish each and every moment. When that clock hits zero and it’s all over, I can hang my head high and just know that I gave it all and I’m proud of everything that my team has done these past four years for Penn State.”

Challenging coaches

Washington coach Chris Petersen has had great success in his career at Boise State, winning two Fiesta Bowls, and now Washington. That fact isn’t lost on PSU offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne.

“When you know you’re going against a coaching staff that has as much experience as they do, a coaching staff that’s won big games like they have, it’s exciting because you know you’re going to be able to test yourself against some of the best in your business,” Rahne said.

“That’s something that you’re always looking forward to, just like I know our players are excited to go against their guys. So going against the best is what drives all of us. We’re all competitors, so it’s a nice challenge for us, and I’m sure they feel the same way.”