Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth ended speculation on his status for the restored 2020 football season by announcing Wednesday he will remain with the Nittany Lions.
Published reports earlier this month indicated Freiermuth would opt out and prepare for the NFL draft. He is considered the No. 24 overall prospect by ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.
Freiermuth said in a Big Ten Network interview that he was staying.
“There were some reports out there about me opting out, but I never opted out,” he said. “I don’t know where those reports came from, but I’ve stayed and told coach [James] Franklin I’m here to get the job done. I’m just excited to play football again for Penn State, and I can’t wait.”
Freiermuth admitted he and Franklin spoke about opting out, "just some open dialogue talking about everything, the pros and cons.
“But at the end of the day, I came back for a reason,” he said, “my last year to play for Penn State and continue to play with my brothers on the team. Evidently we have the opportunity to do that, so I’m going to continue to play football at Penn State.”
Franklin said he had some “really honest conversations” with his star tight end.
“For him to come back, I wanted him to be 100% on board with that decision,” Franklin said. “And if he was going to leave, we were going to be 100% on board with him.”
Penn State already had lost All-America linebacker Micah Parsons, who opted out last month, before the Aug. 11 decision by Big Ten presidents and chancellors to not have a season.
“We had two different situations, and they came out differently,” Franklin said. "But at the end of the day, it’s what’s in their best interests, and we couldn’t be more excited, obviously.”
A 6-foot-5, 260-pound junior, Freiermuth is the leading returning receiver on the Nittany Lions. He caught 43 passes last season for 507 yards and seven touchdowns.
Freiermuth said he and his teammates are excited that the Big Ten has decided to have a 2020 season.
“Obviously, with the news coming out, we’re just excited to get back on the field and prepare for our first game and continue to get better every single day,” he said.