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Jahan Dotson: Penn State Receivers Must Prove They’re ‘Best Group On The Field’

It’s no secret Penn State football has lost pass-catching talent this offseason. With KJ Hamler headed to the Denver Broncos and former five-star recruit Justin Shorter off to Florida, most of the pressure will fall on Jahan Dotson.

As a sophomore, Dotson caught 27 passes for 488 and five touchdowns in 2019. He was the only Nittany Lion receiver not named Hamler to find the end zone that season, and his 18.07 yards per reception ranked fifth-best in the Big Ten.

Still, Dotson knows there will be many questions surrounding Penn State’s receivers entering the 2020 season.

“We first just have to prove to our team that we’re the best group on the field,” Dotson said. “Every day at practice, it has to start from day one during these workouts on Monday. A lot of people have us as one of the weaker spots on the team, so we just have to come out everyday and prove to everyone that we’re one of the best groups every time we step on the field.”

While Hamler clearly led the way in 2019, Dotson was practically the only other receiver that added significant value. Of returning wide receivers, Daniel George had the second-most receptions in 2019 with just nine. Despite that, Dotson feels the fellow third-year Nittany Lion is poised for a big season.

“I came in with Daniel [George] my freshman year, and I’ve just seen him do so many great things,” Dotson said. “He just does so many great things and has so many ‘wow moments,’ I just can’t wait for him to put them on display this year in games.”

While he finished last season with just nine catches for 100 yards, George has the longest touchdown reception in Penn State history to his name. The Maryland native connected with then-backup quarterback Sean Clifford for a 95-yard score in the final moments of a dominant victory over Kent State in 2018.

While Dotson and George were both listed as starters on Penn State’s spring depth chart, TJ Jones was also given a starting spot while John Dunmore was listed right behind him. The sophomores were both highly touted recruits coming out of Florida, and they’re expected to come into bigger roles in their second seasons in Happy Valley.

Dotson feels that both young talents won’t struggle to make names for themselves quickly.

“Their work ethic is really what stands out to me,” Dotson said. “They’re always so hungry. They’re always so ready to put in more work and are eager to learn something. I just can’t wait for them to put all of that hard work to the test and flourish this year.”

The excitement surrounding the pair seems to be spreading around the offense. Quarterback Sean Clifford also described them as “extremely hardworking guys” last week.

Outside of the obvious loss of on-field talent, the Nittany Lions also now welcome their fourth wide receivers coach in the same number of seasons. After Gerard Parker left Happy Valley to become West Virginia’s offensive coordinator, James Franklin and Co. welcomed Taylor Stubblefield from Miami.

While it’s understandably tough to endure a constant carousel of new coaches, Dotson feels lucky to be around such a variety of experienced football minds. In terms of his newest coach, Dotson said that he admires Stubblefield’s body of work from his playing days at Purdue, and loves the “swagger” he brings to the wide receiver room.

With a new coach and a group of young, mostly unproven talent to work with during an unprecedented offseason, Dotson is being relied upon as a leader. Despite that, he has a clear plan for how he can lead his fellow wide receivers to a productive 2020 campaign.

“Time flies by. Honestly, it feels like I was a freshman just yesterday,” Dotson said. “One thing I would tell these guys is that you want to come in every day and just prove yourself. Prove to someone every day that you’re ‘that guy.’ A lot of the guys we have on our team, they were the best guy in high school, so I would say every day you come into practice…You want to show why you came to Penn State.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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