There was a lot of talk during the 2018 season about the Penn State wide receivers. Further, the many drops by the entire unit. Fans wondered how to fix the issues and give the team the best chance to win. Was it the coaching staff? Was it too much pressure on young receivers? Were the veterans just having a bad game? These questions continued all the way to the final whistle against Kentucky.
Now, the season is over and there is a new position coach. Gerad Parker was hired in early January from Duke. While it is not easy to see a coach lose his job, sometimes it is inevitable. After the new hire fans were eager to get Parker working with the players. That was relatively short-lived as word that the veterans had entered the transfer portal. With the loss of Juwan Johnson and Brandon Polk to the NCAA transfer portal, it’s time to look at the remaining Penn State wide receivers.
Penn State Wide Receivers
Juwan Johnson may not have had the best year in 2018, but he played in half the games he did as a sophomore. Johnson’s junior season was clouded with injury and when he was in the game he still made many incredible catches. He was third on the team in receptions in 2018. Nittany Lions’ fans must never forget, and likely will not, that Johnson made the catch to keep the season alive against Iowa in 2017. Further, Brandon Polk is also transferring. The other junior of the group was seventh on the team in receptions, the fifth wide receiver. Finally, with the only other veteran, DeAndre Thompkins, graduating the young guns will have to step up in 2019.
The Rising Sophomores
Penn State’s leading receiver will only be a redshirt sophomore entering the 2019 season. KJ Hamler ended the 2018 season with 42 receptions for 754 yards and five touchdown receptions. In addition, he added 44 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Finally, he was second in the Big Ten for receiving yards per reception. Hamler was a bright spot for the Nittany Lions this season and 2019 is likely going to be no different.
Jahan Dotson was another 2018 freshman to have a good season for Penn State. Dotson played in eight games, effectively burning his freshman redshirt. He ended the 2018 season sixth in receptions with 13 for 203 receiving yards. The 2019 true sophomore may not have had a touchdown in 2019, but he still has plenty of playing time left to get in the end zone.
Redshirt freshmen Mac Hippenhammer and Cam Sullivan-Brown also played in several games in 2018. Hippenhammer had 103 receiving yards and one touchdown. The rest of the 2018 freshman played less than four games. That fact will keep their freshman redshirt in tact.
The Redshirt Freshmen
Justin Shorter and Daniel George were the only true freshman wide receivers, other than Dotson, to receive playing time in 2018. Keeping their redshirts alive and still gaining real game time was the best scenario for the Nittany Lions going into the 2019 season. George even had a touchdown reception in his limited time. While neither had enough time to make a real impact, both showed flashes into their bright futures.
The Incoming Freshman
There is currently only one wide receiver in the 2019 recruiting class. There is still time and room in the class to add at least one more, but currently John Dunmore is the sole wide receiver. Dunmore is a four star prospect out of Florida. He is 6 ft. 2 in. and 172 pounds. Dunmore has the size and speed to fit in nicely with the Penn State receivers.
With only two receivers left that played more than four games for Penn State in 2018, it will be up to the young players to carry the load in 2019. Hamler and Dotson will likely take the lead, but look for Shorter to make a big impact and enter a Juwan Johnson type of roll. If one or two more young receivers, such as Hippenhammer or Sullivan-Brown, can step into a larger role, the Penn State wide receivers will be in good shape in 2019.