Redshirt Reintroduction: KJ Hamler

By Matthew Filipovits on June 14, 2018 at 8:08 am
Sep 2, 2017; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) gestures while running onto the field prior to the game against the Akron Zips at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports


Nearly 60 percent of Penn State's receptions in 2017 are off plying their trade in the NFL now. In fact, DeAndre Thompkins and Juwan Johnson are the only returning players to catch more than 20 passes last season. The Nittany Lions desperately need another option for Trace McSorley in 2018. Enter redshirt freshman KJ Hamler.

Originally from Pontiac, Mich., Hamler started off his high school career at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, the same high school as former Nittany Lion receiver Allen Robinson. He transferred to the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. for the 2016 season, but a torn ACL prior to the year caused him to miss the entire season.

The Hamler File

  • Class: RS Freshman
  • Size: 5'9/172
  • Pos: WR
  • School: IMG Academy (Fla.)
  • Composite Rating: ★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #47 WR

Hamler arrived on campus as an early enrollee last January and continued to rehab his knee, in addition to getting a jumpstart on his collegiate career. With a ton of pass catchers returning from the 2016 team, Hamler took a redshirt last season to continue to develop as a receiver, add weight to his relatively small frame, and get that knee back up 100 percent.

Hamler is your prototypical slot receiver. He's got the kind of speed you love to see out of a deep threat, but he can really cause damage out in open space. Dubbed the "Human Joystick" for his shiftiness and ability to make defenders miss, Hamler is the perfect complementary option for guys like Thompkins and Johnson, who make their living stretching the field.

With plenty of competition at receiver, Hamler's quickest path to making an impact could come in the return game. His open field ability and quickness make him the perfect option in the punt return game. He will, of course, have to beat out Thompkins and others there as well.

Listed as the third string behind DaeSean Hamilton and Brandon Polk at the "H" receiver for all of last season, he'll have to beat out Polk and fend off a trio of incoming freshmen if he wants to the bulk of the snaps this fall. According to new receivers coach David Corley, Hamler may already be separating himself.

It's also become clear that Hamler will replace Marcus Allen as the Nittany Lions' resident hype man, and his energy should quickly make him a fan favorite. Please enjoy these videos of him being outstanding.