2019 Penn State Football Preview: Wide Receivers

By Michael Stanley on August 14, 2019 at 8:30 am
Oct 13, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) warms up prior to the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Beaver Stadium.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
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The wide receiver position for Penn State in 2019 is a perfect metaphor for the team as a whole– incredibly talented but extremely inexperienced.

Last Year

/sits quietly in the back of the classroom hoping to not get called on

Ugh, fine. 2018 was mostly a disaster for the Penn State wide receiver group. Juwan Johnson didn't come remotely close to matching expectations, De'Andre Thompkins and Brandon Polk seemed to regress, and everybody was dropping it like Snoop Dogg in 2004. By our calculations here at Roar Lions Roar, there were 36 drops in the regular season. That includes running backs and tight ends, as well, but the large majority of the drops came from the receivers.

Oh, and position coach David Corley, who was actually hired to be the running backs coach and was hastily shifted to coach the receivers after Ja'Juan Seider became available, was fired after the bowl game. Not a banner year for the wide receiver position. But hey, at least KJ Hamler broke out.

The Starters

No. 6 Justin Shorter (So./Fr., 6'4, 235 lbs)

No. 1 KJ Hamler (Jr./So., 5'9, 176 lbs)

No. 5 Jahan Dotson (So./So., 5'11, 175 lbs)

This starting three, if they all live up to their individual potentials, could stack up as arguably the best receiver trio in the conference and one of the best in the country. But living up to that hype isn't a given. Still, with new position coach Gerad Parker leading the way, this talented group seems primed to reach new heights in 2019.

Justin Shorter will likely be the starting X-receiver and has the size, speed, strength, and catch radius to be a superstar. The only thing, to our knowledge, that has held him back was a pre-season injury going into 2018 that limited his ability to adjust to college football and truly learn the offense. With the extra year to learn and adjust, he could start to live up to his five-star billing.

KJ Hamler will man the slot position, aka the H-receiver, and is already one of the most electric players in the conference. His quickness in and out of his breaks, straight-line speed, and overall route running make him incredibly difficult to cover one-on-one. Ricky Rahne must find ways to get Hamler the ball.

Jahan Dotson, while the least talked about of the group, may just end up being the most reliable. He'll take care of the outside receiver position that lines up next to the slot, the Z-receiver. His route running is that of a seasoned vet and he catches everything that comes his way. Dotson has also been learning both the outside and slot positions, as both he and Hamler will play in both roles. All three compliment each other perfectly.

Back-ups

No. 11 Daniel George (So./Fr., 6'2, 220 lbs)

No. 23 Weston Carr (Gr./Sr., 6'2, 202 lbs)

No. 12 Mac Hippenhammer (Jr./So., 5-11, 182)

With Daniel George, the staff has another supremely talented option at X-receiver. He is a big-bodied receiver that can bully cornerbacks. Coming out of high school, it was clear that George relied on strength, size, and overall athleticism to get himself to the next level. Going into college, he needed to learn the intricacies of the receiver position. He's reportedly been very good in practices, and with the overall youth of the position group, he should find slightly more playing time than the backup X-receiver usual would.

Weston Carr is the wildcard of the group. In his time at Azusa Pacific, a D-II school, he was an All-American. He was both reliable and a playmaker. With his skill set and size, he can play both the Z and the H which makes him incredibly valuable to this offense. How he adjusts to a higher level of football will determine how much he sees the field this fall.

Mac Hippenhammer's play is reminiscent of Dotson. Both his size and skill set match up well with Dotson, as well as his ability to play both the H and Z. Still, Hippenhammer's time with the baseball team does take away valuable spring reps, so it's hard to nail down exactly how much he's set to play this fall.

The reserves

No. 81 Cam Sullivan-Brown (Jr./So., 6'0, 194 lbs)

No. 88 Dan Chisena (Gr./Sr., 6'3, 202 lbs)

No. 10 TJ Jones (Fr./Fr., 6'1, 196 lbs)

No. 8 John Dunmore (Fr./Fr., 6'1, 179 lbs)

Sullivan-Brown is a good reserve piece but it's unlikely he'll play too much meaningful football unless a number of injuries occur. Still, of the players in this group, he's the most likely to see the field with some kind of consistency.

Chisena is a great walk-on story and is one of the fastest players on the team but has plenty of hurdles in front of him to find playing time. Still, expect to see him at the back end of blowouts this fall where his track star-caliber speed can take the top off a defense.

Jones and Dunmore, having only recently arrived on campus, still need time to develop and are sure to redshirt in 2019. Don't be surprised to see one or both of them sneak into one of the non-conference games.

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