LOS ANGELES -- Penn State fans should get the word on Aaron Maybin's career plans in the coming days.

And Maurice Evans might not be too far behind.

These standout defensive ends are the two most likely Nittany Lions to take the money and run early to the NFL, both after only three years in college.

Maybin, a redshirt sophomore pass-rushing specialist, is being touted as a top-10 pick possibility in April, as much because of his enormous potential as his on-field production.

NFL scouts salivate over his long frame that could easily add another 25 to 30 pounds and that unmatched speed off the edge.

Evans is a bit more of a mystery. After a stellar true sophomore season in 2007, he was suspended for a few games this year because of off-field problems and then failed to replicate his big-play ability of the previous fall.

But he also has hinted at leaving early anyway.

After Thursday's Rose Bowl loss to USC, Maybin said he should make up his mind soon, maybe even within a week. Paterno said he has not spoken yet with either about their plans.

"Maybin's gotta do what he wants to do," Paterno said on Friday.

In the past, Paterno has given his full-support to underclassmen approaching a big pay day -- who he also felt were ready for the pro experience, players such as Todd Blackledge and Ki-Jana Carter.

He didn't give that type of public approval yet to Maybin.


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"If a kid's going to be a number one draft pick, at this stage, he's got a tough decision to make," Paterno said.

When asked about Evans, he said, "I don't want to get into it. I don't think that's fair to the kids for me to start evaluating what their future is as far as the NFL."

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Doing it my way: Rumors have circulated concerning Paterno and Penn State possibly being fined for blowing off an ABC interview before the Rose Bowl and also for not opening up their locker room to reporters following the game, as per BCS guidelines.

As for the interview, Paterno said, "I didn't miss it. I just said, 'I'm not going.'"

As for the locker room situation, Penn State officials, as usual, did allow reporters to speak to players outside of the locker room.

"I haven't got the slightest idea (about being disciplined), and to be honest with you, I don't care," Paterno said. "There's a limit to how much you can exposure your football team to."

Giant effort: Linebacker Navorro Bowman set a Penn State bowl record with five tackles for loss, finishing with 161/2 this season. He also led the team with 106 tackles and added four sacks.

Bowman's efforts helped the Lions hold USC to a season-low 61 rushing yards.

Not sure yet: Paterno did not know the severity yet of the knee injuries suffered by running back Evan Royster and offensive tackle Dennis Landolt and the ankle injury to tailback Stephfon Green.

Biggest concern: Of all of the spots hit hardest by expected graduations and defections this offseason, Paterno said he is most concerned about replacing the three of four starting defensive backs he will lose.

Only corner A.J. Wallace, a part-time starter, returns next fall.

Success out West: Penn State lost its first bowl game west of the Mississippi River under Paterno. The Lions entered the Rose Bowl 13-0 in such games, including 5-0 when playing teams from the same state as the bowl location.

Small victory: The Lions gained 410 yards, the most USC gave up all season, and PSU was only the third team to score more than 20 points against the nation's No. 1 scoring defense.

Making his mark: Daryll Clark threw for a Penn State bowl record 273 yards, surpassing Michael Robinson's 253 in the 2006 Orange Bowl. His 21 pass completions tied Robinson's record, too.

Clark's 2,592 season passing yards also are third-best in school history.

Did it again: Jordan Norwood's three receptions vs. USC gave him 41 for the season, meaning that he, Deon Butler (47) and Derrick Williams (44) all surpassed 40 catches for the third straight year.

Prior to 2006, Penn State never had a trio do that.

He's No. 2: Kicker Kevin Kelly's six points in the game gave him 425 for his career, ranking him second all-time in NCAA history to Louisville's Art Carmody (433 points from 2004-07). Kelly passed Houston kicker Roman Anderson in the Rose Bowl.

Raining points: USC scored more points in the first half (31) than Penn State's defense had given up in an entire game all season. Iowa and Illinois both scored 24.

More bad news: USC's 38 points are the second-highest total the Lions have ever yielded in a bowl game, behind the 39 in a wild victory against BYU in the 1989 Holiday Bowl. ... Mark Sanchez's four TD passes are an opponent bowl record against PSU. ... Sanchez is the first quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards against the Lions since Luke McCown of Louisiana Tech in 2002 ... Damian Williams' 162 receiving yards were the most PSU has ever given up in a bowl, breaking a 40-year record.
fbodani@ydr.com; 771-2104