‘It Kind Of Moved In Slow Motion’: Tight End Khalil Dinkins Reflects On White Out Touchdown
With Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren in front of him on the depth chart, tight end Khalil Dinkins doesn’t often get the chance to make big plays. During the White Out on Saturday, however, Dinkins finally got his chance.
Just like every other game this season, the Penn State offense started slow. The first drive of the game went nowhere, and the second drive of the game stalled at the Iowa 29-yard line, forcing a 46-yard field goal attempt, which Alex Felkins converted.
The first signs of life came after a muffed punt recovered by Penn State gave the offense a fresh set of downs, but it quickly found itself back in a fourth-down situation from the Iowa nine-yard line. On 4th-and-1, Drew Allar lined up under center in what looked like it was going to be another stereotypical tush push. Instead, he dropped back, looked to the end zone, and found his target: Khalil Dinkins.
“It kind of moved in slow motion,” Dinkins said. “Catch it. Touchdown. Ain’t nothing better than that.”
Dropping back to throw the ball on 4th-and-1 from the red zone is a gutsy call. Dropping back and throwing to a tight end who only had one target up to that point in the season is even gutsier.
“We’ve been running it in practice and we just scripted it out,” Dinkins said. “I knew I was gonna score as soon as we called it. I was just ready to catch it.”
With the wide receiver room struggling to find a consistent and viable third option, the tight end group has had to step up and make plays.
During the first game of the year, Warren caught one ball for seven yards in what was the only catch by a tight end in the game. Since that game, the tight ends participation has grown, culminating in three touchdowns from the group during the White Out.
Dinkins said his target wasn’t surprising because of the chemistry rookie gunslinger Drew Allar has built up with not only Dinkins but the rest of his potential pass catchers.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that they trust me just to catch the ball,” Dinkins said. “Drew’s such a great quarterback and I know he’s gonna get it to me anytime.”
With the increased participation from the tight ends comes increased competition for game reps. Dinkins says the competition in practice makes him better, and it’s good to know that the whole room has his back. The thing that brings the room together the most, though, is their determination to make everyone who came before them proud.
“I know what’s been through the Penn State tight ends,” Dinkins said. “Pat Freiermuth, Jesse [James], and Mike [Gesicki], so just a whole bunch of pride there.”
Dinkins didn’t find himself in this position right away. While the redshirt sophomore did catch a touchdown pass last year, he only had four receptions in the eight games he appeared in. During his first two years with the program, Dinkins said he made a lot of mistakes but used them to grow and fight his way to the playing time he wanted.
The hard work and commitment he’s given to the team isn’t lost on Dinkins, and he’s now getting to watch his brother, preferred walk-on Kolin Dinkins, fight for the same things he once did. The elder Dinkins enjoys watching his brother, and was glad to have him on the sideline to celebrate his crucial touchdown.
While getting his number called at such a decisive juncture of the game makes him proud enough, Dinkins still can’t believe he got the chance to make a big play during Penn State’s signature White Out.
“There’s no experience like it,” Dinkins said. “Hearing the noise of the fans, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
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Even though you’re probably going to do it anyway, talking about the losses to Michigan and Ohio State is probably a bad idea.
We made up some hypothetical significant others to lie to your family about over the holidays in case you’re sad and lonely.
Mmmm… I smell turkey.