The quickest man in soccer. Is that ok for Penn State’s Drew Hartlaub within the NFL?

Drew Hartlaub had one other life-changing soccer resolution to make.

So many individuals had come earlier than. Would he proceed to play his sport at South Western Excessive after blowing out his knee?

Would he threat going Penn Statethe varsity of his desires, though he might by no means see the land?

Would he keep there, three years later, nonetheless with out a scholarship and with out a likelihood to begin?

However per week in the past, it was the most important of all of them. The NFL. The whole lot he had labored for. Afternoon was night, the draft ended, and groups started signing free brokers. Hartlaub had to choose.

Drew Hartlaub performs a three-cone drill during Penn State Pro Day at State College's Holuba Hall.

Drew Hartlaub performs a three-cone drill throughout Penn State Professional Day at State School’s Holuba Corridor.

He finds his father of their household residence close to Hanover. He quietly introduced that he had chosen the Carolina Panthers and head coach Matt Rhule – a former Penn State further like himself – over the Seattle Seahawks.

“My dad simply began crying and gave me a hug. He simply mentioned he was pleased with me. It simply made me suppose he had sacrificed a lot to get me to the place I’m, waking up early to take me to camps as a child, doing the whole lot to assist me. With out him…

“I may by no means have anticipated this to occur 4 or 5 years in the past.”

Hartlaub definitely beat the chances to get this far. He overcame that torn knee in highschool, the damage that ruined his recruiting, to earn a high spot at Penn State. Two years later, a teammate confirmed up late for a gathering, giving Hartlaub his first likelihood on particular groups. He by no means gave it up.

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Overlook that he by no means performed a big position in his safety place in school. He used his team-best dash pace and athleticism to be a lethal “gunner” on cowl groups, an professional tackler in chief.

And when NFL scouts watched him run 40 yards Penn State Professional Day in March…and it pulled out a stunning 4.22 seconds … curiosity has grown. Simply extra verification of why he was so good at what he does.

“I believe I can most likely go to the NFL and be one of many quickest guys instantly,” he mentioned. “If I race like I did on Professional Day…it should be exhausting for lots of people to maintain up with me.”

Carolina Panthers and Matt Rhule supply greatest deal

It was a transparent selection, lastly. Carolina supplied the most effective cash ($6,000 signing bonus) and essentially the most familiarity. His former Penn State roommate, Yetur Gross-Matos, is a defensive finish for the group. His teammates and associates Brandon Smith (fourth-round draft choose) and John Lovett (free agent) can even be a part of him.

Additionally, if anybody is aware of what it is like to begin on the backside of the Penn State soccer ladder and embark on an NFL profession, it could be Rhule. He was a linebacker underneath Joe Paterno earlier than working his manner by means of the teaching ranks.

Previous to the draft, Hartlaub labored for the Baltimore Ravens and interviewed the Las Vegas Raiders and was supplied by the Seahawks, however “I felt Carolina believed in me greater than wherever else.”

Which implies, in the long run, the place he has the most effective shot at making a closing roster. This, after all, shouldn’t be assured. His battle remains to be a troublesome one, though he is likely to be the quickest man within the NFL over 40 yards.

Rookie mini-camp begins this week and Hartlaub mentioned he hopes to remain in Carolina till mid-June. The pre-season camp begins a month later.

“The actual work begins now,” he mentioned. “However I really feel like I have been on this place earlier than. I do know it should be robust.

“I am simply going to method it the identical manner I did at Penn State. Good perspective on daily basis as a result of it is a blessing to play for a corporation like this whether or not I am there for per week or there for a yr. I’ll work exhausting, give the whole lot I’ve on daily basis. I is probably not pretty much as good as the opposite gamers, I won’t be able to do what the opposite gamers are doing, however I can even work exhausting and can profit from my alternatives.

Here’s a have a look at different Nittany Lions free brokers who’ve signed with NFL groups:

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October 23, 2021;  University Park, Pennsylvania, USA;  Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Ellis Brooks (13) dives past Illinois Fighting Illini running back Chase Brown (2) during the first half at Beaver Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes - USA TODAY Sports

October 23, 2021; College Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Ellis Brooks (13) dives previous Illinois Preventing Illini working again Chase Brown (2) through the first half at Beaver Stadium. Obligatory Credit score: Wealthy Barnes – USA TODAY Sports activities

Ellis Brooks took his general sport to the following degree final season and led the Lions in tackles (100).

The senior middle linebacker was an imposing bodily presence on the within, particularly through the first half of final season. He was particularly efficient in opposition to run-oriented opponents like Wisconsin and Iowa. He earned second-team All-Huge Ten honors in 2021.

He is turn out to be a outstanding defensive chief and exhausting employee, which ought to assist his general effort stick with the Packers. His testing numbers at Penn State Professional Day upset, nonetheless, and sure stored him out of the ultimate rounds of the draft. Most evident was his 4.77 time within the 40-yard dash.

Derrick Tangelo, Atlanta Falcons

Penn State defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo (54) tackles Rutgers running back Kyle Monangai (23) during the first half of an NCAA college football game at State College, Pennsylvania on Saturday Nov. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Penn State defensive sort out Derrick Tangelo (54) tackles Rutgers working again Kyle Monangai (23) through the first half of an NCAA school soccer sport at State School, Pennsylvania on Saturday Nov. 20, 2021. (AP Picture/Barry Reeger)

Duke’s switch impressed as 2021 progressed, notably after fellow defensive sort out and group supervisor PJ Mustipher was misplaced to damage.

Derrick Tangelo turned the dependable, space-eating presence inside defensive sort out and flashed with a giant play at times. He completed with 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks and compelled a fumble in opposition to Illinois.

Penn State acquired precisely what it hoped for from the Maryland schoolboy star when he joined for his senior season.

John Lovett, Carolina Panthers

October 2, 2021;  University Park, Pennsylvania, USA;  Indiana Hoosiers defensive linesman Weston Kramer (99) tries to tackle Penn State Nittany Lions running back John Lovett (10) as he heads the ball during the third quarter at Beaver Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

October 2, 2021; College Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Indiana Hoosiers defensive linesman Weston Kramer (99) tries to sort out Penn State Nittany Lions working again John Lovett (10) as he heads the ball through the third quarter at Beaver Stadium. Obligatory Credit score: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports activities

Baylor’s graduate switch by no means actually acquired off observe throughout his senior season at Penn State.

However working again John Lovett will nonetheless get an NFL shot with acquainted faces in Carolina. The Panthers drafted linebacker Brandon Smith within the fourth spherical and chosen Hartlaub as a free agent. Moreover, Rhule was Lovett’s head coach at Baylor when he signed with the Bears in 2017.

Lovett’s transient Penn State profession started with being suspended for the primary two video games of the 2021 season for undisclosed disciplinary causes. He was a substitute within the subsequent six video games earlier than beginning in opposition to Maryland and Michigan.

His busiest floor video games have come in opposition to Villanova (11 carries, 45 yards) and Ohio State (13 carries, 20 yards). He gained simply 177 yards all season with out scoring a landing. He added 9 receptions for 36 yards.

Eric Wilson, New Orleans Saints

Eric Wilson leads a three-cone drill during Penn State Pro Day at State College's Holuba Hall.

Eric Wilson leads a three-cone drill throughout Penn State Professional Day at State School’s Holuba Corridor.

Arguably essentially the most constant offensive lineman of final season.

Eric Wilson locked down a guard publish after transferring from Harvard. He confirmed good energy numbers and a great drill job for NFL scouts on Penn State Professional Day and appears like he may deal with one in all three spots on the within line.

Frank Bodani covers Penn State soccer for the York Every day File and USA At this time Community. Contact him at and observe him on Twitter @YDRPennState.

This text initially appeared on York Every day File: NFL: Nittany Lions Football Walk-on Drew Hartlaub to Carolina Panthers

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