Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth officially declares for 2021 NFL draft

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
FILE - In this Dec. 28, 2019, file photo, Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth (87) runs with the ball after a catch during the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl college football game against Memphis in Arlington, Texas.  Freiermuth was selected to The Associated Press preseason All-America first-team, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman, File)

Penn State star junior tight end Pat Freiermuth will forgo his senior season and enter the 2021 NFL Draft, he announced via Twitter on Sunday.

"It has been an absolute honor representing the Blue and White these past three seasons," Freiermuth said in a statement. "When I received my offer from Penn State, I knew right away it was the place I wanted to be. Obviously, the way my career ended wasn't what I wished for, needing season-ending surgery on my shoulder. Nittany Nation, I can promise you, I gave you everything I had.

"After many conversations with my loved ones and coaches, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and officially declare for the 2021 NFL Draft."

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound Massachusetts native was an AP preseason first-team All-American and played in four games this season before undergoing season-ending surgery on his shoulder. He finished the 2020 season with 23 receptions for 310 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Freiermuth was also selected as the 2020 Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of Year, becoming the first Nittany Lion in program history to win the award.

For his career, Freiermuth has 92 receptions for 1,185 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. His 16 career touchdown receptions are the most all-time by a Penn State tight end and rank eighth overall in school history.

With the loss of Freiermuth — a projected early-round draft pick — the Nittany Lions will likely turn to redshirt freshman tight end Brenton Strange and freshman Theo Johnson for production at tight end next season.

"We sincerely appreciate Pat's contributions to our football program and Penn State University," head coach James Franklin said in a statement Sunday. "He is a person of high character who has perfectly exemplified our core values. From day one, Pat totally bought into our program and helped drive our culture forward.

"... Pat is making the best decision for himself, his family and I fully support his choice. One of my responsibilities as head coach is to ensure all our players maximize their potential and fulfill their dreams. I am excited to see Pat chase his professional aspirations and I am confident he will succeed in the NFL and whatever else in his future that he sets his mind on!"