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Opportunity Awaits Mitchell Tinsley At Rose Bowl Amid Washington’s Absence

As was the case for a majority of his collegiate career, Mitchell Tinsley’s tenure at Penn State began as a result of risk.

The wide receiver joined his new school in December 2021 following a mammoth season at Western Kentucky. Starting 14 games, Tinsley snagged 87 receptions for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2021.

“If I wouldn’t have had the season I had the year before, I probably wouldn’t have hopped in the portal like that because I feel like for some people it could be a death trap,” Tinsley said at a press conference Thursday.

Despite eventually ending up in State College and rooming with the starting quarterback, Tinsley entered the college football sphere without fanfare — though considering the Nittany Lion did not play high school football until his senior year, it did not come as much of a surprise.

“I had been asking my dad to play basketball and to try other things,” Tinsley said. “I wanted to continue to play football, but I wanted try other things also. Really I kind of just wanted to take a year break. That was the plan.”

“But then basketball, I ended up really enjoying it. So I ended up playing all the way up until my junior year,” Tinsley continued. “I don’t know why I did that to myself… it kind of wasn’t really a smart move on my part.”

After walking onto the Hutchinson Community College team, Tinsley transferred to Western Kentucky. After developing a strong chemistry with record-breaking quarterback Bailey Zappe, Tinsley’s name started gaining traction among larger Division I programs.

“It was definitely different going from high school and no offers and then, you know, almost feeling like a five-star when I entered the portal,” Tinsley said.

Among Tinsley’s suitors were powerhouses such as North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and USC –– the latter being his dream school. (“I was a big Reggie Bush fan,” Tinsley said on four occasions.) Even with all of the lofty promises levied his way, Tinsley was successfully wooed by the straightforward approach of James Franklin and the Nittany Lions.

“I feel like what separated Penn State, the day I got in the portal, they were there the next day,” Tinsley said.

Since arriving in Happy Valley, Tinsley has asserted himself as a top receiving option, albeit in a significantly different role than his previous schools.

“Tinsley has been awesome. He comes from an offense at Western Kentucky where they threw it about 60 times a game,” said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “We’re a very multiple offense that likes to distribute the rock.”

Alysa Rubin | Onward State

In 12 games with the Nittany Lions, Tinsley recorded 528 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 45 catches. While his totals are lower than last season’s electric campaign, it appears more a product of offensive scheme than regression.

“Not one time was there any indication of him being salty or not getting the ball enough,” Yurcich said. “He’s just a team guy, loves to compete, and has caught on to our offense very well.”

As Penn State approaches the 2023 Rose Bowl, the offense will project a noticeably different look. Parker Washington, the team’s leading receiver, is unavailable for the game due to injury.

In Washington’s absence, Tinsley and his positional compatriots will be expected to step up against a strong Utah defense.

“Mitch Tinsley has been an unbelievable asset to our program, his ability to play multiple positions,” said Penn State wide receiver coach Taylor Stubblefield. “So yeah, there’s gonna be some changing in terms of what he does obviously.”

Tinsley understands what the situation may call for, expressing confidence in his coaching and preparation for what could be his biggest moment.

“I feel like we’re ready, and I feel like that’s something that Coach [Stubblefield] has done well in preparing us for situations like this,” Tinsley said. “I would definitely say that even fall camp, early on in the season, making sure that everybody knows the concepts and not just knowing your position, but knowing whether it’s slot or both outside positions.”

With dreams of the NFL just over the horizon, the Rose Bowl will be the latest of multiple national opportunities for the former Hutchinson Community College pass catcher. Televised by ESPN, the Rose Bowl will kick off at 5 p.m. EST on January 2 in Pasadena, California.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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