The wide receiver position for Penn State has been hit or miss the last few seasons with one receiver emerging as the go-to each year. This year, it looks like Jahan Dotson will emerge as that guy for Sean Clifford and Penn State. Before Dotson, it was KJ Hamler. Before Hamler, it was Chris Godwin. Both Hamler and Godwin are now in the NFL. Godwin asserted himself as a prime target for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers and Hamler caught his first touchdown pass for the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
While the last few years were mainly a one-man show among the receivers with Pat Freiermuth picking up the slack, this year might be different. One bright spot against Ohio State was the emergence of not only Dotson as a threat but the other young receivers as well.
Jahan Dotson Emerges for Penn State
There were several positives during the loss to Ohio State on Saturday. One of those positives was the play of the receiving group, spearheaded by Dotson. On back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter on Saturday Dotson made incredible one-handed grabs. The first with his left hand to extend the Penn State drive. The second was with his right hand to score a touchdown. He plucked the ball right out of the air and scampered to the endzone. He was not the only receiver that made an impact though, other young guys stepped up in key situations as well.
Jahan Dotson’s Explosive Play
Last season as a sophomore, Dotson accounted for five touchdowns on 27 receptions and 488 receiving yards through 13 games. This season the junior has already amassed 12 receptions for 238 yards and four touchdowns through two games. Three of those touchdowns came on Saturday against a very talented Ohio State secondary. Dotson averaged 18 yards per reception on Saturday leading the Nittany Lions in both receptions and receiving yards. Penn State had 281 receiving yards against Ohio State and Dotson accounted for 144 of those. Ohio State has one of the strongest secondaries in the country and Dotson was able to find ways to succeed. He will look to keep that going against a Maryland defense that has allowed 401 pass yards through two games this season.
Freshmen Receivers Doing Their Part
Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith have also shown flashes of what they can do through the first two games of the season. Washington was second in receiving against Ohio State behind Dotson. The freshman accounted for 73 yards on four receptions and averaged 18.3 yards per reception. He also scored a touchdown against Indiana in the opening loss. Lambert-Smith is also starting to make his name known. He had two receptions on Saturday for 18 yards and two receptions for 25 yards against Indiana.
While this may not seem like much, it is refreshing for a unit that has struggled to find consistency over the last few seasons. Outside of Hamler and Godwin, there was little variation in the passing game in their respective seasons. If Washington and Lambert-Smith can keep trending upward that will open things up for Dotson and Freiermuth.
Opening Things Up for Freiermuth
Freiermuth was relatively silent against Ohio State, but the offense didn’t really start to pick up momentum until late in the game. The standout tight end was third in receptions on Saturday with three. He only has one touchdown through two games this season, scoring in the opener against Indiana. Although, he has ten receptions already this season. To open things up for Freirmuth several things need to happen. First, Clifford needs to be able to get the ball out quicker in the passing game. He hasn’t had much time and quick passes have worked better. Second, the young receivers need to continue trending upward. More threats in the passing game will allow Freiermuth to have more opportunities. The tight end accounted for 507 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. He is a big part of Penn State’s success and the offense needs to find ways to get him the ball.