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Gross-Matos and Hamler Selected in Second Round of NFL Draft

photo by Kathy Reed

Courtesy of GoPSU Athletics 

Gross-Matos is Penn State’s highest defensive draft pick since 2010; Hamler is highest drafted Nittany Lion receiver since 2003


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State defensive endYetur Gross-Matos (38th overall) and wide receiver KJ Hamler (46th overall) were selected in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night. Gross-Matos went to the Carolina Panthers while Hamler heads to the Denver Broncos.


A total of 358 Nittany Lions have been selected all-time in the NFL Draft, which ranks eighth among Division I institutions. Penn State has had 41 draft picks since 2010. A total of 23 Nittany Lions have been drafted since head coach James Franklin’s arrival to the program, including 14 in the last three years.


Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, 6-5, 264, Spotsylvania, Va./Chancellor

With Gross-Matos’ selection, 13 Penn State defensive linemen have been NFL Draft choices since 2006. Gross-Matos is the 19th Nittany Lion defensive end all-time to be drafted and is the program’s highest drafted defensive player since 2010 (Jared Odrick, 1st round, 28th overall). He is Penn State’s highest drafted player since Saquon Barkley was selected second overall by the New York Giants in 2018.


Gross-Matos is the fourth Penn State player to be drafted by Carolina and the first since linebacker Dan Connor (3rd round, 74th overall in 2008). He will be joining Penn State football alum Matt Rhule, who is in his first season as head coach of the Panthers.


“We couldn’t be more proud of Yetur,” Franklin said. “He is a young player whose best football is still ahead of him. He had a big year for us, and he developed himself into one of the elite defensive ends in all of college football. His length, athleticism and ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage will serve him well. We are so appreciative of Yetur for his attitude and approach he brought to our program daily. We wish him nothing but the best in the NFL, and we are excited to see him compete on Sundays.”


“Yetur has one of the best motors I’ve been around as a college football coach,” defensive coordinator Brent Pry said. “Day in and day out he practiced with an incredible work ethic. He would run though the wall for you. For his size, I think he’s got a great skillset. Probably most importantly, Yetur is very raw and still has his best football ahead of him.”


Yetur Gross-Matos Bio

  • Tied for 10th all-time at Penn State with 19.0 career sacks and 11th with 37.0 tackles for loss.
  • Named a 2019 finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award and Bednarik Award, and a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
  • Was a 2019 Phil Steele third-team All-America selection.
  • Selected All-Big Ten first team by the coaches and media in 2019.
  • Ranked seventh in the Big Ten and 21st nationally with 0.79 sacks per game in 2019.
  • Held sixth in the conference and No. 24 in the FBS with 1.3 tackles for loss per game.
  • Notched 2.5 sacks, while collecting three tackles in the Idaho win (8/31/19).
  • Registered three tackles, including a solo sack the Buffalo (9/8/19) victory.
  • In the win at Maryland (9/27/19), recorded five tackles, including two tackles for loss and a QB hurry.
  • Tallied two sacks and two QB hurries in the victory over Purdue (10/5/19).
  • Recorded five tackles and a solo tackle for loss in the win at Iowa (10/12/19).
  • Posted five tackles in the Michigan win (10/19/19) while adding a half-tackle for loss.
  • Recorded three tackles and a half-tackle for loss in the win at Michigan State (10/26/19).
  • Collected a sack, a QB hurry and two tackles in the Indiana win (11/16/19).
  • Notched nine tackles, including five solo, while registering 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks at Ohio State (11/23/19).
  • Recorded a sack in the first quarter in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl win over Memphis (12/28/19).
  • In 2018, he became the 11th Nittany Lion to record 20 tackles for loss in a season and tied with Bruce Clark (1978), Todd Atkins (1994), LaVar Arrington (1999) and Aaron Maybin (2008) for the eighth-most tackles for loss in a season (20.0).


KJ Hamler, WR, 5-9, 176, Pontiac, Mich./IMG Academy (Fla.)

Hamler becomes the 25th Penn State wide receiver to be drafted all-time. He is the first Nittany Lion wideout selected since DaeSean Hamilton went to Denver Broncos in the fourth round in 2018. He is the highest Penn State receiver selected since 2003, when Bryant Johnson was picked 17th overall by the Arizona Cardinals.


Hamler is the sixth Penn State player to be drafted by Denver and the first since Hamilton in 2018, whom Hamler will be joining in the Mile-High City.


“KJ is not only going to be a perfect fit for the Broncos because of his explosive playmaking abilities, but also his infectious personality,” said Franklin. “Our coaches and players always wanted to be around him because he made practice, team meetings and the locker room fun, while also being one of the most prepared players in our program. On the field, he’s an electric, tough difference maker. The more times he touched the football, the better it was for our offense. We are so happy for KJ and are excited to see him at the next level.”


“I am thrilled for KJ,” said Penn State co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Tyler Bowen. “There’s not many players that combine his electricity with route running. He’s going to make the Broncos very happy and become a weapon that people are going to know about for years to come.”


KJ Hamler Bio

  • Finished tied for 13th all-time at Penn State with 13 touchdown receptions and 16th with 1,658 receiving yards.
  • Ranks eighth all-time in program history in kick return yards (1,036) and 15th in kick return average (23.55).
  • Became the 19th Nittany Lion to reach 3,000 career all-purpose yards in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl vs. Memphis (12/28/19).
  • Finished his Penn State career with 33 catches of 20 or more yards, 14 catches of 30 or more yards, eight catches for 40 or more yards and four catches of 50 or more yards.
  • Had at least one catch of 20 or more yards in 14-straight games from 11/17/18 at Rutgers through 11/23/19 at Ohio State.
  • Was a 2019 second team All-Big Ten honoree by the coaches and media.
  • Caught four passes for 115 yards, including touchdown receptions of 36 and 21 yards in the win over Idaho (8/31/19).
  • Caught six passes for 108 yards in the win at Maryland (9/27/19), grabbing a 58-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
  • Posted three catches for 41 yards in the Purdue win and scored on a 23-yard pass (10/5/19).
  • Caught a career-high seven passes for 61 yards in the win at Iowa (10/12) and scored on a 22-yard pass in the second quarter.
  • In the Michigan victory (10/19/19), made six grabs for 108 yards, scoring on 25- and 53-yard grabs.
  • Caught five passes for 57 yards in the win at Michigan State (10/26/19) and hauled in a 27-yard touchdown reception.
  • Tallied seven receptions for 119 yards at Minnesota (11/9/19).
  • Hauled in a 93-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley against Ohio State (9/29/18) for the second-longest TD reception in program history.
  • Broke the Penn State freshman record in 2018 for all-purpose yards with 1,417, topping the previous mark of 1,237 set by Saquon Barkley in 2015.

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