Following in teammate Aaron Maybin's footsteps, Penn State junior end Maurice Evans is leaving college early and declaring for the NFL draft, according to team sources.

The difference between the two defensive ends is that Maybin is considered to be a likely first-round pick, while Evans - once a hot commodity - is not. That could change, but right now the one certainty is that the Nittany Lions' depth at end for next season has taken a serious blow.

The biggest loss on the defensive line, however, could come from the coaching ranks. Assistant coach Larry Johnson is said to be considering a job offer from Illinois, and Penn State may not be able to compete with what Illini coach Ron Zook is offering.

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Evans had until tomorrow to make a decision. Having decided last week, Maybin officially announced his intentions yesterday during a news conference at Mount Hebron High, his former high school in Ellicott City, Md.

This past season Maybin benefited from Evans' misfortune. After an all-Big Ten season in which he recorded 211/2 tackles for loss and 121/2 sacks, Evans entered his junior season high on many draft boards.

But in September, he was charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and served a three-game suspension from the team. Maybin, a redshirt sophomore, stepped in and had an all-American season. When Evans returned he was a shade of his sophomore self and finished with just 31 tackles and three sacks.

With Evans and Maybin gone, the Lions will have to rely on some untested underclassmen to fill their shoes. Jack Crawford and Kevion Latham are the leading candidates, along with senior-to-be Jerome Hayes, who is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Their guidance could come from another source as Johnson is flirting with Illinois. Penn State's top recruiter, the 57-year-old is reportedly being offered the defensive coordinator position with the Illini and a significant raise.

Green sidelined. Running back Stephfon Green will miss spring practice with a dislocated ankle he suffered in the Rose Bowl against Southern Cal.

Green underwent surgery yesterday and is expected to need three to four months to recover, according to team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli. During his senior year of high school, Green suffered a similar injury to his right ankle.

In backing up Evan Royster, the redshirt freshman ran for 578 yards on 105 carries this season. Royster went down with a left knee sprain in the first quarter of the Rose Bowl and Green was called upon. The speedy tailback ran for 57 yards on 10 carries and caught five passes for 67 yards. Green also had a fumble.

Royster and tackle Dennis Landolt, who also injured his left knee, are expected to return in time for spring practice, according to Sebastianelli.