Penn State has been looking for a consistent aerial weapon since stud receiver Allen Robinson departed for the NFL following the 2013 season. While the current group has shown a lot of promise, none have been able to establish themselves over an extended period of time. In addition to inconsistency at quarterback, the receivers have dropped way too many passes over the past two seasons.
DaeSean Hamilton accumulated 82 receptions for 899 yards and two touchdowns in 2014, which led the team. His numbers dipped significantly this past season as he caught 45 passes for 480 yards. On the positive side, he hauled in six touchdown grabs.
Chris Godwin has been on an upswing for the Nittany Lions, bumping his receptions from 26 to 69 while racking up 1,101 yards through the air in 2015. He would’ve caught more passes, but quarterback Christian Hackenberg succeeded in spreading the ball around to a wide array of different targets unlike the previous season.
Aside from the aforementioned contributors, the Nittany Lions will be dipping into a pool of receivers with very limited production. Redshirt senior-to-be Geno Lewis took advantage of the graduate transfer rule, moving on to Oklahoma for the upcoming season, which means there will not be a contributing senior wide receiver on the roster. The team’s next most veteran receiver is Saeed Blacknall who, like Godwin and Hamilton, will be a junior. All that said, Penn State may have the conference’s top receiving corps in terms of upside.
Brandon Polk and DeAndre Hopkins both logged time as freshmen in 2015. Polk is one of the fastest receivers in the conference and can be used in multiple ways. Nick Scott and Mark Allen are listed as running backs but also contributed in the passing game. Lastly, Juwan Johnson is expected to be a huge target for whoever is behind center. Johnson was green-lighted by head coach James Franklin last season, but wasn’t used, therefore he maintains freshman eligibility moving forward.
Godwin and Hamilton will likely continue to be the favorite targets, but if Penn State wants to compete this season, they’ll both have to be consistently reliable and receive help from the young guns. Whether the starting quarterback is Trace McSorley, Tommy Stevens or Jake Zembiec, the Nittany Lions won’t improve offensively if they can’t trust their receivers.