Manny Bowen no longer with the Nittany Lions
Manny Bowen’s tumultuous career at Penn State appears to finally be over, ending hopes that the twice-suspended player might have been in line to fill the major void at middle linebacker this season.
“Manny Bowen is no longer on the Penn State football team. We wish him all the best,” a statement released by the university revealed Monday afternoon, after media outlets discovered Bowen was no longer listed on the Nittany Lions’ roster with the season opener just days away.
Bowen started 12 games and made 68 tackles in 2016 when Penn State won the Big Ten title and went to the Rose Bowl. But he was suspended for the bowl game for violating team rules.
Bowen returned and started the first nine games last season, making 51 tackles, but was kicked off the team prior to the Fiesta Bowl for again violating team rules.
As this summer wore on, there was speculation that Bowen had been accepted back onto the team, and coach James Franklin confirmed that a few weeks ago. The idea, Franklin said, was to give Bowen a chance to keep playing football and graduate in December — on one condition.
“We created some stipulations for Manny to achieve from the time he left the program, and if he lived up to his end of the bargain, then he would have an opportunity to earn his way back on the roster,” Franklin said.
Neither Franklin nor defensive coordinator Brent Pry made any declarations about Bowen’s actual role on the team or how much he would play. Franklin did note a couple of weeks ago that Bowen would not be starting the season opener.
Now all of that is a moot point with Bowen once again off the team.
There’s been no word from the coaching staff on who will start at middle linebacker, and the depth chart is expected to be released today. The odds-on choice is junior Jan Johnson, who appeared in six games last season and made 12 tackles.
Cam Brown and Koa Farmer are expected to be the starting outside linebackers. The Lions also have prized freshman Micah Parsons in the mix, but he is expected to play outside linebacker this year rather than the middle.
A rules change that Franklin recently lobbied for will be in effect this season, with the Big Ten announcing Monday that travel rosters will increase from 70 to 74 players.
With a new rule in place this year allowing players to appear in four games and still be redshirted, it gives coaches a chance to play more players based on situations.
“I think we should be able to do that in the Big Ten, travel 75, maybe travel 80 because now the way I look at it is those freshmen that you’re going to play in those four games, they are probably going to be home games because you have a hard time getting to the number 70 anyway,” Franklin said earlier this month.