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Penn State Football: Confidence Is Key for Wide Receivers Entering 2019 Season

by on June 14, 2019 10:25 AM

There’s only one goal in everyone’s mind for Penn State football’s wide receivers entering the 2019 season: catch the ball. Wide receivers coach Gerad Parker is working towards achieving this simple, but supremely important goal entering his first season on James Franklin’s coaching staff.

Last season, drops were a significant issue for the Nittany Lions’ group of pass-catchers. Players like Juwan Johnson, Brandon Polk, and DeAndre Thompkins all took steps back in this area following strong performances in 2017.

All three of those veterans, however, are no longer with the team. Thompkins was a senior, but Johnson and Polk both got much-needed changes of scenery via the transfer portal. Rising redshirt sophomore KJ Hamler, true sophomore Jahan Dotson, and redshirt freshman Justin Shorter are currently projected to take on the team’s starting receiver roles in 2019.

Their new wide receivers coach is working towards eliminating a certain dreaded five-letter word — drops — from his young group’s collective game.

“My job is to make sure these guys can handle the bad. And what is the bad as a wideout? It’s the ugly word that we don’t want to say. They’re going to happen,” Parker said on Wednesday. “Our guys have got to be able to say, ‘Hey, I know what I’m doing wrong — my eyes were late, my hands were down, I’ll fix that, I’m gonna go get the next one.’ If we can get them wired like that and hungry to just fix it, we’re going to be just fine.”

Hamler was Penn State’s best wideout in 2018. He showcased his skills as one of college football’s most explosive players with a team-leading 754 receiving yards and 43 catches. The redshirt sophomore scored five touchdowns last year, including a 93-yard score in the White Out game against Ohio State.

During the offseason, the receivers have worked on gaining the necessary confidence and mindset in order to bounce back from dropped passes. That said, Parker thinks they still have some strides to make.

“I think we’re halfway home,” Parker said. “I think we haven’t endured enough bad yet together to get them through to the other side to say we’re there, but I think we’re halfway home.”

As of right now, Penn State has 15 wide receivers to work with entering the 2019 season. Only four of them have at least two or more years of experience under their belt, and that goes to show just how young this group really is.

With the work that Parker has been doing with his receivers to mentally and physically prepare them for this season, Penn State’s wideouts could take college football by storm in 2019.

“Confidence going in[to a new season] allows you to [find success] more, so I think we’re going to have a group that’s going to walk into August knowing, 'man I feel different, I’ve acted different, I have done all these things differently, I am ready for success,'” Parker said.

Patrick Arnold is a writer for Onward State.
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