Penn State linebacker Manny Bowen has left the program and will not return to the Nittany Lions as a senior according to a program spokesperson. The Barnegat, New Jersey native had been a contributor for Penn State from day one and would have been a three-year starter had he returned in 2018.
Bowen arrived in 2015 and immediately cracked the lineup as a true freshman. Originally in a special teams role, injuries at the linebacker position forced Bowen into more playing time. In 2016, he became a starter at weakside linebacker, the role he would remain at into his junior year in 2017.
While losing a starter at a thin position is certainly a blow, there were signs that Bowen may be on the way out. Bowen missed the Rose Bowl Game against Southern California due to apparent off-the-field issues. Those issues popped up again in 2017, as Bowen missed the final three games of the regular season.
Bowen's backup in 2017 was true sophomore Cam Brown. While Brandon Smith started in Bowen's stead for the final three regular season games, Smith (along with starting middle linebacker Jason Cabinda) is out of eligibility and will not be back. Brown would be the early favorite to start at the WILL in 2018.
Bowen finished the 2017 season with 51 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble in nine games.