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Penn State Football: KJ Impresses NFL Scouts, Former Nittany Lions

by on September 27, 2019 11:28 PM

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The cadre of NFL scouts here in the Maryland Stadium press box on Friday night were ready this time.

They were on KJ Alert.

The long row of talent evaluators were parked smack dab in the middle row, running over 16 people and a baker’s dozen teams long.

The pack ran from the two Buffalo Bills scouts on the far right and extended alphabetically to the far left, finishing with the Washington Redskins — with lots more in between, including a pair from the Houston Texans, ready to report back to Bill O’Brien. 

They had already seen KJ Hamler blaze 58 yards for a scintillating touchdown that brought done the house and dropped the Terrapins to their knees.

 

The catch-and-run-and-a-million moves came less than six minutes into the contest — won emphatically 59-0 by Penn State — on a slant where one would-be Maryland tackler bounced off of Hamler, only to have Hamler juke and then totally turn around another Terp defender who fell woefully to the ground.

The scouts then saw Hamler snag another pass for 18 yards in the second quarter, then two more as the first half inched to a close with Penn State on another long drive.

So when Hamler’s fifth reception of the first half occurred (covering 14 yards, giving him an even 100 for the first half), the men in the NFL logo’d hats and fleeces were ready.

Hamler showed some NFL-ready moves, and the scouts had seen enough. They oohed. They aahed. (I could hear them, I could see them. I had taken the press box seat of the Falcons scout, who never showed up. He doesn’t know what he had missed.)

The Bears scout, his mouth ajar, turned to the Packers scout, who had a big, "holy crap" smile.

One Bills scout, peering through his binoculars, went for his iPhone, then his laptop, then turned to the other Bills scout. Who gave a little nod.

Then seemingly the entire row of scouts — from the youngsters fresh on the circuit to the former NFL GM who had played in The League — leaned back in their chairs and craned their necks to look at the press box TV monitors to get another look at the 5-foot-9, 176-pound wide receiver from Pontiac, Mich.

They know he’s a redshirt sophomore, eligible for the NFL Draft this spring. But they also know, as one scout told me before the game, that they can’t officially write him up. “And besides,” he said, “you never know if they’re going to come out or not.”

For those two plays on Friday night — the 58-yard TD and the 14-yarder — it was Hamler’s coming out party.

Hamler finished with six catches for 108 yards and cracked the career 1,000-yard receiving mark, with 1,107 — good for No. 28 on Penn State’s all-time chart. Not that Hamler’s skills, speed and moves were a surprise. He did set the Penn State freshman record for all-purpose yards in 2018, breaking Saquon Barkley’s record of 1,237, set in 2015.

It was that Hamler did it with so many pro scouts in attendance, on national TV, under the Friday light nights.

NITTANY TWEETS

The scouts weren’t the only ones who were impressed.

A whole host of former Nittany Lions, watching at home, took to Twitter after Hamler’s big TD run in the first quarter.

Here’s what some of them Tweeted about the Nittany Lions’ No. 1:

Marcus Allen @Chico_Hndrxx - “KJ IS THE GOAT !! !! !!”

Adrian Amos @_SmashAmos31 - “KJ not the one you want to let loose (bug eyes) don’t let it get ugly Maryland lol”

Brandon Bell @_bbell - “That boy got it man”

Malik Golden @goldchaingolden - “That kid hamler somethin special man”

Grant Haley@haleyboy10 - “That man KJ go crazy”

Adam Taliaferro@Tali43 - “Hamler is special special”



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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