Irvin Charles Rounds The Corner At Wide Receiver
Five yards into his route, Irvin Charles unleashes a nasty stutter step, leaving a Golden Gopher defender in the dust. The redshirt freshman wideout bursts upfield and corrals a dart from Trace McSorley before breaking the top off of Minnesota’s defense for a game-changing 80-yard touchdown.
Not only did Charles spur a thrilling 26-13 run to an overtime win, but the Sicklerville, N.J., native became the first Nittany Lion since Justin King (Cincinnati 2005) to score on his first collegiate catch. The imposing 6-foot-4, 219-pound Charles hails from the same hometown as former Nittany Lion running back Bill Belton, the author of many highlight-reel touchdowns during his time in Happy Valley.
James Franklin discussed the importance of Charles’ grab during his Maryland week press conference on Tuesday at Beaver Stadium.
“Reviewing the last game, the first thing that kind of jumps out, I didn’t mention after the game and should have but I think Irvin Charles, that was a huge play in the game from a momentum standpoint. Not sure if we should throw the ball more to Irvin or not. He could end his career with a pretty good touchdown-to-catch ratio,” Franklin joked, “but obviously he’s an exciting young playmaker.”
Following news this week that junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall is expected to be back in the lineup for the first time since Kent State, the already-slim amount of snap counts to go around in Joe Moorhead’s no-huddle offense is sure to have an effect on the backups against Maryland. But don’t expect Charles or classmate Juwan Johnson to get complacent. They know that starters Chris Godwin, DaeSean Hamilton, and DeAndre Thompkins (or Blacknall) will receive plenty of run given the minimal opportunities to rotate guys in between plays, but when Charles’ number was called this past weekend, he certainly made the most of it.
Charles was a big-time recruit coming out of Paul VI High School in 2015, as he had his pick of two dozen major scholarship offers from plenty of heavy hitters like Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Miami, you name it. He would pick Penn State over the rest while on an unofficial visit to campus in July 2014, recognizing that there would be ample depth at his position when he arrived. The stockpile of talent would allow him and Johnson the luxury of taking a redshirt season last fall to get themselves ready for the rigors of Big Ten football, and the added time in the weight room is already paying off.
Charles is the type of field-stretching receiver college programs crave in the age of spread offenses. He has the size to create a matchup nightmare for smaller corners on jump balls and the speed to break free from safeties over the middle, just like he did against the Golden Gophers on that enormous 80-yard strike. Although he’s still trying to carve out a bigger role for himself, it’s important for young pass-catchers to take development in stride and learn as much as possible from the group’s veterans. When wide receivers coach Josh Gattis taps No. 11 on the shoulder this Saturday against the Terrapins, Charles will have the added confidence of knowing he can take it to the house on any given play and open the floodgates for an offense that’s getting more comfortable each week with McSorley at the helm.
As he continues to develop and learn from the upperclassmen, we’ll undoubtedly see Charles get more balls thrown his way, especially in the red zone, where he and Johnson present a huge threat with their ability to go up and over opposing defensive backs.
Big things are certainly in store for Charles, as his electrifying catch last weekend was just the beginning of what could be a breakout season moving forward.