UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The on-again, off-again relationship between linebacker Manny Bowen and the Penn State roster has come to an end with Bowen deciding to focus on school.
Bowen noticeably was absent from the official roster in advance of this weekend's opening game against Appalachian State, and the reason why became clearer Tuesday.
"Manny made the decision to focus on school, and that was it," linebacker Cam Brown said Tuesday morning on a conference call with reporters.
Bowen is slated to graduate in December, which played an integral role in returning to the roster after being kicked off the team last season.
As for the players he will no longer be calling teammates? Brown believes they will be OK.
"We weren't planning on having him back right away, and so it doesn't affect much of what's going on in the room," Brown said.
Without Bowen, the young group of linebackers lose a player who has started a multitude of games and recorded 136 tackles during an eventful three-year career with the Nittany Lions.
The starters at linebacker will be Koa Farmer, Jan Johnson, and Brown, and with those guys comes a vast amount of experience. However, behind them lies inexperience in two freshmen, Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa, as well as redshirt freshman Ellis Brooks, who is backing up Johnson at the Mike position.
What the Penn State linebackers lack in experience, they make up in athleticism and raw talent, especially Luketa and Parsons.
"They can move at a level that some guys can't, and that's putting them a little bit ahead," Brown said. "They came in with such strength as a freshman. They're coming in as heavy as 230, 240, and that gives them a big advantage."
The Nittany Lions must live without Bowen's experience and leadership, but youth will be served in the end, and that will pay dividends down the road for Penn State.