One of the most prolific wide receivers in the Big 10 last season was Allen Robinson of Penn State. Through three years with the Nittany Lions, Robinson pulled in 177 receptions for 2,479 yards and 17 touchdowns. There is a load of talent and production departing from this team, and a huge part of any success found this season will be found in the replacement of Robinson.
This is a kid who found himself at or near the top of Penn State’s all-time leader board in many major categories, despite only having three receptions to his name for his freshman season of 2011. He currently stands atop Nittany Lion history in single season catches (97) and single season yards (1,432), and he stands only behind the great Deon Butler in career catches with his 177 snags through three seasons.
The man who will fill the gaping hole being left behind is Geno Lewis, who saw in action in all 12 games last season after redshirting the previous year. The 6-foot-1, 201 pound redshirt sophomore was considered to be Penn State’s best recruit in the 2012 class and spent that year putting on some necessary weight and learning the position as a member of the scout team.
Last season, after Lewis scored twice with 97 yards, former Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien had lofty praises for the redshirt freshman, telling Travis Johnson of Centre Daily Times:
“He’s made a ton of progress. He works extremely hard. Again, he’s become a better route-runner. He can become an even better route runner. He’s a good deep-ball runner, a good post-runner, a good go-runner. And he’s worked on his running style. He’s become more of a receiver.”
It’s fairly simple to observe how someone might project to a larger role, but the larger, more hefty challenge is actually stepping in and doing the job. That’s where we begin to play the waiting game, as Lewis’ complete and legitimate rookie campaign last season all of a sudden becomes a stepping stone to this point.
Especially if quarterback Christian Hackenberg makes his expected progress this season, it’s very possible that we could be seeing Lewis turn into the go-to receiver for Penn State and become the next Robinson for this Nittany Lions team.