EDITORIAL: Penn State’s Wide Receivers: Catching Eyes
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2020 has been an unpredictable and grueling year for everyone, but especially Penn State football.
The Penn State Nittany Lions currently sit at 0-4 as the only winless team in the Big Ten, and are on the brink of going 0-5 for the first time in program history. Even in such a crazy, messed up year, very few if any could’ve seen a start to the season like this coming.
It’s been hard to find much joy this season in Happy Valley...
I guess you could say that it’s been more like Sad Valley.
In my opinion, the only consistent enjoyment and excitement that Penn State football has provided fans is via the wide receivers.
With the departure of KJ Hamler to the NFL, I wondered how the receiving corps would fare. Once perhaps the biggest question mark on the team, the wide receivers for the Nittany Lions now feel like the only sure thing.
Led by Jahan Dotson, followed by freshman sensations Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith, the unit has been a breath of fresh air for the Penn State offense this season.
Dotson and Washington have been on a tear to begin the season, making play after play and giving the Nittany Lions offense jolts of life when things seem generally hopeless.
Many questioned if Dotson would be able to fill the shoes of Hamler as Penn State's new No. 1, and it didn’t take long for him to put those wonders to rest.
Dotson provided me with one of the most memorable and exciting moments in recent Penn State history against Ohio State in Week 2, when he made back-to-back spectacular circus catches on Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade in the fourth quarter. It was some of the most pristine play from the receiver position that I’ve personally ever seen from a Nittany Lion, and Penn State has produced some pretty prolific pass catchers.
Dotson’s speed, explosiveness and soft, sticky hands have been on full display throughout the first four games of the season. The junior has hauled in 23 catches for 388 yards and leads the Big Ten this season with five receiving touchdowns. Washington isn’t too far behind with three.
I, myself wasn’t too surprised when Washington was listed as a starter on Penn State’s first depth chart release of the season. I knew how talented he was and the things he could be capable of, but so far, he’s completely exceeded my expectations.
With his elite ball skills, body control and strong hands, Washington has been able to come down with a lot of highly contested passes and has stepped up in games when it matters most. The freshman has shown a lot of promise and exhibited much to be excited about.
Fellow freshman KeAndre Lambert-Smith has yet to make much of an impact on the stat sheets, tallying only seven catches for 78 yards, but has shown flashes as he’s made some big plays in big moments. I expect his stock to keep rising and his contribution to the offense to continue to increase as the season progresses.
Whether it's Sean Clifford or Will Levis starting under center for the Nittany Lions on Saturday against Iowa, the playmakers on the outside will be looking to continue their hot start to the season and make things as easy as possible for their quarterback.
Zach Donaldson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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