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College Football 2017 Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions Wide Receiver Corps Among the Nation's Best
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8 Aug 2017 08:00 PM EST

-by Sammy Jacobs, Contributing Writer; Image: Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton makes catch in B1G Championship Game. (Image Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Bloomington, IN— Penn State’s wide receivers will be right up there with that of Indiana’s when it is all said and done in the Big Ten this upcoming season. They have a running game that will keep defenses honest and a quarterback who loves to chuck the deep ball. The Nittany Lions did lose 2016 receiving leader Chris Godwin to the NFL, but return three other playmakers who should be able to pick up the slack.

Two seniors, DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall, will headline Penn State’s receiving corps. Those two will be joined by junior DeAndre Thompkins or Juwan Johnson to form a very formidable trio for quarterback Trace McSorley to throw to.

Entering his final season in Happy Valley, Hamilton is fourth on Penn State’s career receptions list with 161 and needs just 18 catches this season to pass Deon Butler (2005-08) as the school’s all-time leading receiver. He finished 2016 with 34 catches for 506 yards and a touchdown. He has the frame at six-foot-one and 205 pounds, as well as the talent to step up into the role that Godwin left. Hamilton will need to be more explosive and find the end zone more however, as one score will not cut it for Penn State.

Penn State’s best deep threat is probably Blacknall, who averaged 23.13 yards per catch last season. At six-foot-three and blazing fast, the senior is a perfect target for McSorley to heave it up to down field. He has five career touchdowns and 690 yards on just 33 career catches.

The third receiver spot will be a battle between DeAndre Thompkins and Juwan Johnson. Thompkins, a junior, is more experienced and has 50 career catches for 618 yards to his name. He came in as a highly-regarded recruit, but hasn’t been able to live up to the hype just yet. Johnson had just two catches for 70 yards, but had an outstanding spring and could wrestle away the starting spot from Thompkins.

The Nittany Lion wide receiving corps will be rounded out with depth pieces like junior Brandon Polk who has caught 20 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown in his career.

“Brandon is very, very fast,” offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead said at a recent press conference. “He has great change of direction. He has the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. He's had a great camp so far. We're only five into it, but he's done a very good job making plays. And the slot position, the H position in our offense is one that's expected to make a lot of plays.”

Another player to keep an eye on who people are high on is Irvin Charles who had 2 catches for 106 yards and a score as a freshman last season.

 To read more from Sammy Jacobs and his staff at HoosierHuddle.com, click here

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