ORLANDO -- Anyone expecting a big announcement from either of Penn State's two draft-worthy juniors came away disappointed Tuesday, as Navorro Bowman and Evan Royster said they are still awaiting the results of the NFL Draft evaluations they have requested.
Of course, anyone who was expecting a big announcement from either player before the Capital One Bowl was likely harboring some unrealistic expectations.
“I'm just trying to finish strong,” Bowman said after Penn State's practice at Freedom High School. “I'm trying to have the best game I can have on the 1st and see where I end up. … I'm looking forward to sitting down and making the right decision.”
Added Royster, “I'm not leaning toward anything. I'm just waiting to hear, and I'll make the decision after the game. It's not really on my mind right now. I'm more worried about the game.”
Of the two, Bowman has long been viewed as the one most likely to leave early. While he didn't come right out and say so, his appearance Tuesday did nothing to dispel speculation that Penn State's matchup with LSU Friday will be his last game as a collegian. Not only is the star outside linebacker considered a potential first-rounder -- Scouts Inc. tabs him the 15th-best prospect overall and 10th-best junior; he also has earned his degree in criminal law and has a young son at home in Maryland to support. A million-dollar NFL contract would have a lot of allure. Said Bowman, “I've never been rich before, so it's always on my mind.”
It's hard to imagine a scenario in which he would stay for his final year, but Bowman insisted there's still a decision to be made, noting that he would have an opportunity to refine his game and build up his legacy at Linebacker U.
“I could reach those accolades you always want to reach when you're in a program. You want to be remembered,” said Bowman, who ranks second on the team with 84 tackles this season despite having missed two games with a hamstring injury. “There are a lot of reasons to come back. But there are a lot of reasons to step forward and take it to the next level. I'm going to think about it and hopefully make the right decision.”
Bowman said he's talked to former teammate Aaron Maybin, who left early to enter the draft and was picked 11th overall last April by Buffalo. He's also been thinking about his circumstances and the off-the-field troubles that at one point threatened to derail his college career. A rich NFL contract would mark another step in his climb to the top. Said Bowman, “I've been through so much and come from so little and worked to get to this point. I just want to make the right decision and live my dream.”
Royster's draft prospects are less certain. Coming off a regular season in which he rushed for 1,104 yards (5.9 per carry), he is eager to see how the league assesses his pro potential. He said the evaluation would play a big role in his decision, but he doesn't have a specific round in mind as a cutoff point.
Academically, Royster still has some work to do at Penn State. He said he is a class or two away from receiving his degree in management information systems.
Royster has talked to his brothers about his decision, but the family discussions won't begin in earnest until after the bowl.
“I really have to sit down and talk to my parents about it,” he said. “It's not really something I can [think about] right now.”