UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For now, Penn State junior outside linebacker Sean Lee plans to stay put.
Although his pro stock continues to rise, Lee said he has no intention of declaring for the NFL draft in 2008 and will return for his senior season.
"I really don't see the NFL thing happening," Lee said. "I want to get my four years in here. I don't think I'm physically ready to play at that level yet.
"I think I need another year here and then I can worry about that stuff after my senior year. And we are going to have a lot of guys coming back and I'm kind of excited about coming back and playing with those guys."
Lee, 6 feet 2 and 229 pounds, arguably has been Penn State's defensive MVP this season.
Many believe this Upper St. Clair High School graduate is having a better year than senior All-American middle linebacker Dan Connor, who became the school's all-time leading tackler in a 26-19 win against Purdue Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Lee has 104 stops, 3 1/2 sacks and 8 tackles for losses. Connor has 105 tackles, 5 sacks and 12 tackles for losses.
Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, said recently that whether Lee comes out this year or next, he "is a likely first-round pick." Rang rates Connor as a potential "top-10" selection.
"The rankings aren't guaranteed -- nothing is," Lee said. "You're only as good as your last game. You can't concentrate on it or worry about, 'Is your stock rising, is it falling?' You just got to continue to try to get better as a player and wherever you end up, you end up.
"I haven't heard much. But I'd be surprised if I'd go in the first round. I have a lot of work to do to be able to go in the first round, especially after watching someone like Paul [Posluszny] go through what he did. He was an All-American and everyone pretty much looked at him as the ultimate first-rounder, but he went early in the second round.
"So, I'm a little cautious. We'll just have to wait and see what happens when the time comes."
Lee, who carries a 3.29 grade-point average in finance, is likely to explore his NFL draft prospects at the end of this season before making a final call on whether to return in 2008. Connor did the same thing a year ago.
"I don't think Sean's going anywhere," defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "I think he wants to come back and get bigger and stronger and work on his technique. And I know he wants to get his degree and his parents want him to graduate."
That being said, Bradley admitted, "If a kid can be a first-round pick, he should go."
If Lee and the Nittany Lions (7-3) can win their final two road games at Temple and Michigan State, they likely will end up at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on New Year's Day.
"We want the best bowl game possible," Lee said.
NOTES -- Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno was pleased to see senior Anthony Morelli from Penn Hills close out his home career with a victory. "People will appreciate him down the road a lot more than they do now, probably," Paterno said. "I think he has done some really good things for this program, leadership-wise. He has been loyal and never complains about anybody. He puts up with a lot of baloney and I'm happy to see him go out the way he did." ... Junior cornerback Justin King from Gateway, criticized for his play in recent weeks, had a solid game. He was flagged twice for pass interference, but broke up a season-high five passes. "When you play an aggressive style of defense, you play more aggressive all around," King said. "I've got pretty thick skin -- [the criticism] didn't bother me too much." ... The Nittany Lions moved back into the Top 25 of the USA Today coaches poll. They also are No. 23 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.