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Penn State's Bowman declares for draft

After back-to-back first-team All-Big Ten seasons at Penn State, linebacker Navorro Bowman has decided to take his game to the next level. No one should be surprised.

Bowman has an infant son and a degree in criminal law. He has nothing to prove at the collegiate level and should be a first- or second-round pick in April's NFL draft.

"I sat down with my family and the right choice for me is to pursue the next level," Bowman told ESPN's Joe Schad. "I'm proud of my accomplishments in college, but it's also a time to take care of my family."

Bowman recorded 93 tackles, including 17 tackles for loss, to go along with two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and five passes defended this season. He did all that despite missing time early on with a groin injury. In 2008, Bowman led the Nittany Lions in tackles (106), ranked second in tackles for loss (16.5) and tied for third in sacks (4.0).

His departure leaves Penn State without all three of its starting linebackers from this season. Penn State will need to replenish its front seven for 2010, but that has rarely been a problem for coaches Tom Bradley, Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden.

Bowman had some off-field issues at Penn State as well as some personal tragedy, including the loss of his father in 2008. He always seemed like a great kid, and here's hoping he does some big things at the next level.