Jahan Dotson, Drew Hartlaub Turn Heads At Penn State’s 2022 Pro Day
Fifteen Penn State football athletes were in attendance for their 2022 Pro Day on Thursday. Representatives from all 32 NFL teams were among those observing the showcase’s events ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Penn State’s participants came from the offensive, defensive, and special teams units. Some were trying to ensure first and second-round selections, while others were attempting to break onto draft boards to begin with.
Among the highlights of the day were Jahan Dotson’s near-perfect performance, Jesse Luketa’s banter with NFL coaches, and special teamer Drew Hartlaub’s would-be record-setting display. Here’s how the day went down:
- Jaquan Brisker, Safety
- Ellis Brooks, Linebacker
- Tariq Castro-Fields, Cornerback
- Max Chizmar, Linebacker
- Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver
- Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE
- Drew Hartlaub, Safety
- Vlad Hilling, Kicker
- Jesse Luketa, EDGE/Linebacker
- Brandon Smith, Linebacker
- Jordan Stout, Kicker/Punter
- Derrick Tangelo, Defensive Line
- Rasheed Walker, Offensive Line
- Ben Wilson, Wide Receiver
- Eric Wilson, Offensive Line
Though the media was not permitted to view weightlifting, vertical jump, or broad jump drills, Penn State released each Nittany Lion’s official numbers during the day. The figures indicated some noteworthy performances, even without every player engaging in every workout.
Despite tweaking his back during the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this March, Jaquan Brisker took to the bench press again, where he recorded 22 reps. He was outpaced by only linebackers Ellis Brooks and Max Chizmar, with 23 and 24 respective reps, and the day’s leader, Eric Wilson, who had a whopping 29 reps.
In an interview after workouts, first-round hopeful Dotson mentioned one of his Pro Day goals was to display his strength.
“People talk about me having trouble in my game because I’m such a small stature,” Dotson said. “So, I definitely wanted to prove that I’m a strong guy and can compete with the best.”
Dotson recorded 15 reps at the bench press, which would have finished second-most at this year’s NFL Combine among all wide receivers.
In the vertical jump, Brisker led the Penn State pack by recording a jump of 38.5 inches. He was closely followed by Tariq Castro-Fields’ 37.0″ and Jesse Luketa’s 36.5″. Special teams fixture Drew Hartlaub began his remarkably athletic Pro Day performance with a 36″ vertical.
Penn State had some issues uploading the correct measurements for the Nittany Lions’ broad jumps. Initially, 247 pound Arnold Ebiketie was listed as jumping a mind-boggling 12’8″. Jaquan Brisker supposedly posted a broad jump of 12’4″.
If those numbers were legitimate, both Ebiketie and Brisker would have shattered Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones’ world-record broad jump of 12’3/4“. Alas, they likely were not, and the numbers were eventually removed.
Castro-Fields and Hartlaub entered incredible (real) showings with respective jumps of 10’11” and 10’9″. Not to be overlooked though is Luketa’s 10-foot jump. Without the benefit of a running start, that is a further imposing number from the 257-pound hybrid defender.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Drew Hartlaub is stupid fast. Like, fast fast.
The Hanover, Pa. native clocked an official time of 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That time ties John Ross’ all-time NFL Combine record from 2017. Even when remembering that Penn State’s Pro Day doesn’t use laser timing like the Combine, it’s clear that Hartlaub was burning rubber on Thursday.
After making an error in his pre-first run stance, head coach James Franklin left his post reporting times to offer Hartlaub some advice. Following Hartlaub’s second run, Franklin’s official time report was a loud “VERY FAST!”, which drew laughs from the crowd.
Later in the day, Hartlaub received individual attention from a representative with the New England Patriots. The pair talked for a long time, but Hartlaub revealed in his post-workout interview that his athleticism earned him conversations with multiple teams about special teams roles.
“To be here in front of these scouts for Pro Day exceeds my expectations…I never would have thought I’d be having the chance to go to the NFL, especially [after] walking on,” Hartlaub said. “It’s kind of surreal because all the work I’ve put in these past couple years, it’s just kind of coming full circle.”
Hartlaub’s sneaky-fast performance surprised many, but it wasn’t a shock to his current teammates.
“He’s definitely our best-kept secret, but he’s certainly most appreciated here,” Castro-Fields said. “We all tell him, ‘Bro, you’re the best athlete on the team.’ He’s really crazy like that.”
Elsewhere, Castro-Fields, Dotson, Hilling, Luketa, Smith, Stout, and Walker opted not to run the 40-yard dash. However, Brisker’s 4.43 and Ebiketie’s 4.65-second times were both impressive and likely beneficial as both try to earn their way into an early-round selection.
Joined by fellow wide receiver and Pro Day participant Ben Wilson, Dotson ran various routes on all parts of Holuba Hall’s field. Sean Clifford, who showed up hours early to get loose, delivered Dotson’s throws.
Throughout his entire individual session, Dotson avoided dropping a single pass. After his workouts, Dotson mentioned garnering specific interest from the Packers, Patriots, and Ravens in his media availability.
Kicker and punter Jordan Stout refrained from taking part in any of the collective physical drills, instead opting to rely on his NFL Combine times, such as his 4.65-second 40-yard dash. Stout’s only participation came when he showed off his holding with snaps coming from Chris Stoll and kicks from Jake Pinegar.
A quality control specialist for the Philadelphia Eagles’ special teams, Tyler Brown, was among the NFL front office staff in attendance. With kicks, punts, and even passes on tape from his collegiate career and the 2022 Senior Bowl, Stout showed off the final piece of his versatile skill set Thursday.
All 32 NFL teams had representatives present to witness the workout fireworks. Several significant figures were among that group.
General managers Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers), John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers), Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans), and Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens) made the journey to Happy Valley. Also among those traveling to Penn State’s Pro Day were:
- Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys head coach
- Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator
- Jonathan Gannon, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator
- Brian Flores, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker coach
Quinn, in particular, made a visible effort to engage with the athletes. During Dotson’s individual work, he struck up a conversation with a group containing nearly all of Penn State’s present defenders. Over 20 minutes later, he was sitting on the turf, having formed a circle with the players, still chatting and laughing.
Undoubtedly Quinn’s eagerness to interact with the defenders will generate speculation about whether another Nittany Lion will join the Cowboys’ defense, especially after linebacker Micah Parsons unanimously won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
While sitting with Quinn, Luketa made his case for why he should be selected, as he reported in his post-workout interview session.
“Why wouldn’t you want to pair me and Micah back up?” Luketa asked, earning a laugh. “Listen, he pushed it all the way up to Jerry [Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys].”
In addition to those scouting the Nittany Lion prospects, multiple familiar faces returned to Holuba Hall on Thursday.
Among them was the New York Giants’ Cam Brown, who was drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, as was Philadelphia Eagles defensive back and 2021 draft pick Zech McPhearson. Former Penn State wide receiver Winston Eubanks was also in attendance. Eubanks medically retired in December 2021 after suffering another concussion.
New faces joined the old faces when early enrollee Drew Allar made an appearance. As Allar walked through the middle of the field in between drills, the Class of 2022 recruit was also flanked by fellow recruiting class members Kaden Saunders and Nicholas Singleton, among others.
Penn State’s draft products will sit tight and keep training as the NFL Draft draws closer and closer. The draft’s first round will be televised on ESPN and NFL Network from Las Vegas on April 28.
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About the Author
Nittany Lions old and new have received new jersey numbers ahead of the 2022 season.