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KJ Hamler Not Satisfied After Standout Performance Against Maryland

KJ Hamler isn’t here for your comparisons of him to Saquon Barkley.

“I’m my own man, and [Barkley]’s his own man,” Hamler said Wednesday night. “To be honest, I don’t really like how people say that’s a ‘Saquon spectacular-type’ run. That’s a ‘me-type’ run. I’m my own person, I make plays, and the coaches and teams help me to be in those situations.”

Though Hamler said being compared to a player of Barkley’s caliber is a “blessing,” he isn’t satisfied with his performances, and he boiled down his individual success to simply wanting to do what’s best for his team. The electric redshirt sophomore leads Penn State with 16 receptions, 353 yards, and three touchdowns. His average of 22.1 yards per reception ranks among the top 15 wide receivers in the nation and first on Penn State by nearly six yards.

Penn State’s 59-0 shellacking of Maryland featured yet another standout performance from Hamler. He hauled in a season-high six passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, and he seemed like a threat to score whenever the ball was in his hands. The shifty slot-man made the Terrapins pay for a missed tackle and, well, trying to play defense, with some gorgeous moves in the open field during his first-quarter touchdown.

Although he’s played really well through four games, Hamler doesn’t care about — or pay attention to, for that matter — his stats during games. He also thinks his game can reach an entirely new level.

“I don’t think last game was a big game,” Hamler said. “It was average. Reaching 100+ [yards] is a big game, so there’s always something to improve on. I still have a lot to prove.”

108 yards and a touchdown may not constitute as an “average” game to most players, coaches, and fans. Hamler’s performances against Idaho and Maryland are two of just three 100-yard games that Penn State’s group of receivers have posted so far this season. Jahan Dotson put up 109 yards and two scores against Buffalo while Hamler posted 62 yards on three catches.

The redshirt sophomore has been excellent for most of this season, but he has an entirely different standard for himself.

“300 [yards]. Receiving,” he said. “I just set the bar high. I don’t think a lot of people do that.”

For what it’s worth, only three players have posted more than 300 yards receiving in a single game in the past five-plus seasons, and the FBS single-game record for receiving yards is 405, which was set in 1998 by Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards.

Head coach James Franklin, however, can’t definitively name an “ideal” total for Hamler in terms of catches or yardage in a single game because of the simple fact that he can’t constantly force the ball into Hamler’s arms.

“There’s going to be games when Jahan Dotson catches 12 balls and KJ catches five. There’s going to be games when KJ catches 15 balls and Jahan catches four — or Freiermuth, or Shorter, or Daniel George, and so on,” Franklin said. “We have a plan to get guys the ball, but at the end of the day, it’s dictated on what the defense is going to run.”

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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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