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Penn State’s Class Of 2020 Wide Receiver Options After Julian Fleming’s Commitment To Ohio State

Penn State football suffered a brutal loss on the recruiting trail when five-star wide receiver Julian Fleming made his verbal pledge to Ohio State Friday morning.

Fleming is the nation’s top wide receiver and the top player available from Pennsylvania in this recruiting cycle. He had offers from a host of the nation’s best programs — including Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia — but the race ultimately came down to the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions. Penn State was long considered the favorite to land Fleming’s commitment, but Ohio State swooped in and brought him to Columbus.

The Buckeyes’ recruiting class overtook Penn State on top of the Big Ten after Fleming’s commitment. Losing out on the 6’2″ wideout hurts James Franklin’s program, but it definitely isn’t an insurmountable defeat. Talented pass-catchers like KJ Hamler, Jahan Dotson, Justin Shorter, and Daniel George all have multiple years of eligibility remaining and very bright futures in Happy Valley.

That said, Penn State probably needs to add a receiver or two in this recruiting cycle. Here’s a look at a few of the team’s remaining options after Fleming’s commitment.

Jaden Dottin

Four-star prospect Jaden Dottin is probably Penn State’s safest bet in the recruiting class of 2020.

Dottin is the second-best player available from Connecticut this cycle, and the Nittany Lions are heavily favored to land his commitment. Though he may not be as highly rated as Fleming, Dottin is actually an inch taller than Ohio State’s newest commitment, and he has plenty of room to build on his 167-pound frame.

Michigan and Syracuse are also pursuing the Suffield Academy product, who took an unofficial visit to Happy Valley on March 16. Dottin also unofficially visited Penn State for its 38-3 victory against Maryland on November 24.

Dottin features on both sides of the ball for Suffield Academy. He shows lots of promise on tape, and he definitely isn’t a one-dimensional player. The wideout knows how to use his size to box out defenders, but he also has speed to burn defensive backs on deep routes.

Christian Fitzpatrick

Penn State has expressed more interest in three-star wideout Christian Fitzpatrick than any other squad who’s submitted an offer.

James Franklin’s program offered Fitzpatrick after he unofficially visited the team on May 18. Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri are among the other squads who’ve shown their interest in the West Bloomfield, Michigan native by offering him a scholarship.

Like Dottin, Fitzpatrick has plenty of size to work with. He stands at 6’4″ and weighs 210 pounds — two inches and nearly 20 pounds heavier than Julian Fleming. Fitzpatrick may not be a blue-chip prospect as the No. 113 wide receiver in the nation, but he’s an intriguing player who could serve well as a deep threat at the collegiate level.

The tall wideout doesn’t have the explosive speed of a guy like KJ Hamler. However, Fitzpatrick’s highlight reel showcases his strong route-running and solid hands.

KeAndre Lambert

Penn State isn’t leading the race for fellow four-star wideout KeAndre Lambert right now, but he’s still an intriguing prospect to look out for.

The Virginia Tech lean plays his high school ball at Maury High School in Norfolk, VA — a state James Franklin has recruited very well in the past. Last year, incoming Nittany Lion freshmen Brandon Smith and Devyn Ford were the top two prospects from Virginia, and Ricky Slade was also the No. 1 recruit from the state in 2018. That’s not to mention Penn State landing Yetur Gross-Matos and Ellis Brooks, two of Virginia’s top 10 prospects, in 2017.

He’s the fourth-best player from Virginia in this cycle and a top 50 wideout in the nation. Clemson, Texas A&M, and Michigan are also among the schools who have offered Lambert, who checks in at 6’0.5″ and weighs 172 pounds.

Lambert’s excellent hands and good speed make him an intriguing prospect for the Nittany Lions. It’ll take a strong push to sway the wideout from Virginia Tech, but Penn State’s past successes in Virginia don’t completely rule out that possibility.

AJ Henning

AJ Henning is one of the most intriguing wide receiver prospects in the current recruiting cycle.

Henning is the 15th-best wide receiver in this cycle, and his impressive offer list includes Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State, among others. That offer list may be the reason why his recruitment is currently among the most wide-open in the nation.

Based on 247Sports’ Crystal Ball projections, Notre Dame is a slight favorite to land Henning’s commitment. However, lead expert Steve Wiltfong thinks he’ll end up at Michigan, and the crystal ball projections say there’s a 29 percent chance he’s undecided. There’s no reason why James Franklin shouldn’t get involved in his recruitment despite the intense competition among college football’s top programs.

At 5’10” and 172 pounds, Henning projects to be an excellent slot receiver in college. The tape backs that up, and the fact that he plays running back makes him even more intriguing. His vision while running in the open field could help him turn a short check-down route into a big gain.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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