Taylor Stubblefield Challenging Parker Washington, Young Wideouts Ahead Of 2021 Campaign
It’s no secret Jahan Dotson is the star of Penn State football’s wide receiver group, but the Nittany Lions will need support behind him if they want a successful passing attack this fall.
Dotson, who’s generated plenty of preseason buzz, led Penn State and the Big Ten with 884 receiving yards last fall. While the Nazareth, Pa., native was a favorite target of Sean Clifford’s, it’s tough to forget about sophomore standout Parker Washington.
The 5’10”, 207-pound wideout started and caught a pass in all nine of the Nittany Lions’ contests last season. He’s also already managed six scores over the course of his young career, and has garnered KJ Hamler comparisons from his head coach.
James Franklin did say at media day earlier this month that Washington has similar ball skills to those of Hamler, which help make up for his lack of size. However, that doesn’t mean wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield is satisfied with the second-year player’s ability just yet.
“I’m gonna challenge Parker everyday,” Stubblefield said. “In the spring, he had a lot of reps and a lot of responsibility in terms of making some plays. This fall camp, he’s gotta be smart and he’s gotta go hard. His level of play has to increase.
“We’re challenging him to use his voice more,” Stubblefield continued. “To not just sit back and kind of let plays come to him, but to go and attack some plays.”
Considering what Washington did in his first season of college football in 2020, it’s hard to imagine what he could do with a true preseason under his belt. As he entered Happy Valley amid the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas native didn’t get a chance to get reps with his new squad last spring and summer.
These past few months, however, Washington has valued the opportunity he’s had to truly work with his teammates and coaches.
“For me, it’s more of an IQ standpoint — just knowing the game more,” Washington said. “Understanding more in-depth of defenses and seeing the bigger picture, besides just knowing my assignment. I like the way [Coach Stubblefield] challenges me with that, and I feel like that will definitely help me in the future.”
Washington noted that he and the wide receivers have embraced the challenges that have come their way, including fellow sophomore KeAndre Lambert-Smith.
Lambert-Smith didn’t burst onto the scene on the same scale as Washington, but he still managed 15 grabs worth 138 yards against an all Big Ten slate. Most notably, the Norfolk native hauled in four grabs against Michigan State, which was one of his five starts of the year.
Along with Dotson and Washington, Lambert-Smith’s potential adds depth to a receiving core that also possesses key veteran leadership in Cam Sullivan-Brown and Daniel George.
Stubblefield noted that the skills are there for Lambert-Smith, but he’s adding key tools that could make him a valuable option for the Nittany Lions.
“He’s been working hard, not just on his physical abilities, but also his mental toughness,” Stubblefield said. “He has grown, in terms of if something negative happens to be able to shut the door on [it]…He’s had some moments this fall camp where he’s done a tremendous job of having that light come on.”
Penn State’s group of running backs has rightfully earned plenty of hype entering this highly anticipated season, but this base of young wideouts could prove vital to Mike Yurcich’s plan of attack. Outside of Dotson, a pair of young, hungry athletes and even more veteran leadership is nothing short of exciting with just over two weeks left until the season opener.
“I’m excited to see what I can do,” Washington said. “I feel like big things are coming for our team and our offense.”
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About the Author
Nittany Lions old and new have received new jersey numbers ahead of the 2022 season.