Three Nittany Lions giving up last year of eligibility

Penn State offensive tackle Garry Gilliam. (Gene J. Puskar/AP file)
Penn State offensive tackle Garry Gilliam. (Gene J. Puskar/AP file)
Posted: November 21, 2013

Emotions always are running high whenever Penn State, or any college for that matter, honors its seniors before the start of the final regular-season home football game.

However, for Saturday's Beaver Stadium finale against Nebraska, it will be the emotions of an entire senior class plus three.

Coach Bill O'Brien disclosed Tuesday that three players with one year of eligibility remaining - offensive tackle Garry Gilliam, defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz and wide receiver Alex Kenney - will be introduced with the seniors before kickoff at their last game in Happy Valley.

Speaking at his weekly teleconference, O'Brien did not want to get into the specifics of his conversations with the three players, all of whom are redshirt juniors.

"Those guys basically sat down with me and they decided to move on to the next stage of their lives next year, and they would like to be introduced on Saturday," O'Brien said. "So that's what we decided to do."

He said Gilliam and Baublitz, two starters, have been "really good players for us and good leaders of us. We're looking forward to watching them play these last two games, especially this last home game."

The 6-foot-6, 303-pound Gilliam, who moved from tight end to tackle after last season, had been granted a sixth year of eligibility for next year after sitting out all of 2010 with a knee injury. He started four games this season and has played a substantial amount in the Nittany Lions' three-tackle rotation.

Baublitz, who is 6-5 and 281, made his first career start in the 2013 season opener and has started a total of eight games. He has 17 tackles and two sacks, and O'Brien said he has played the last three or four weeks on a painful ankle.

Kenney saw little playing time this season, catching three passes for 25 yards.

O'Brien also said that tight end Matt Lehman, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2013 opener, has petitioned for a sixth year of eligibility but will walk with the seniors on Saturday.

"That's probably more of a just-in-case deal," O'Brien said. "We're still waiting to hear on his application for a sixth year."

O'Brien said his conversations with Gilliam, Baublitz and Kenney have been ongoing.

"As the year ends, I think guys start deciding what they want to do," he said. "I'm of the belief that these kids should have these conversations with me . . . a good, honest conversation about where they are in the program, what they've done in the program and what they want to do next."

Nittany notes. O'Brien said all of his players are healthy except for some bumps and bruises, but he can't say the same about his staff. Running backs coach Charles London suffered a broken foot while jogging and will be in a boot for four to six weeks. . . . O'Brien said he "can't say enough" about former Nittany Lions Matt McGloin's first start as an NFL quarterback, a 28-23 victory for Oakland over Houston. "He's a smart guy," the coach said. "Smart guys that work hard and have some talent, they really thrive in that league. I think that he'll thrive in that league."


jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

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