Jahan Dotson just wanted to be ready. That was all he could control, everything else was up to chance and opportunity.
If his number was called, he just had to be prepared for that moment. If he was prepared, the rest would take care of itself.
And it did.
In his five games of action last season, Dotson became one of Penn State's more reliable targets in a struggling passing attack. While his 13 receptions don't jump off stat sheet, the freshman recorded a catch of 19 or more yards in every single game he played. He only had two catches in the final two games of the year and never picked up a touchdown, but Dotson gave Penn State's receiving corps a boost down the stretch.
"Coming in here, no one really thought I was going to play that much or even at all [his first year]," Dotson said following the Blue White game. "So I'm basically just trying to prove myself every day at practice and I got my chance on the field and once I got my chance I never looked back."
"I knew that once I got my shot, that was my time to come out."
Heading into 2019, Dotson stands to be even more of a marquee name on offense. With the departure of Juwan Johnson to Oregon, it will come down to a fairly young group of receivers, headlined by KJ Hamler, to take on that burden. And more importantly, bounce back from a season full of drops and missed opportunities.
The good news for Dotson and company, new receivers' coach Gerad Parker certainly says all of the right things when it comes to getting his position group back to playing with confidence, and aside from a few early drops in the spring scrimmage, they certainly seem to have been listening.
"Basically [Parker is] talking to us every day," Dotson said. "It's about knowing that even if you have bad days, talking to us and teaching us that you've got to look past that day and just look to the next rep."
And the key to putting the struggles of 2018 behind them? Just forget about in the first place.
"Putting [it in] the past, like it is," Dotson said. "Just look past it and move on."
For Dotson and many of his teammates, the opportunity to step up to the big seat and take over a larger role is a new excitement in the locker room. Much of Penn State football's narrative the past few seasons has been written by the same few characters, a corps that has guided the program through a fairly successful three-season run.
Now it's someone else's turn to take authorship of that storyline.
"I think all of us do feel excited to be on the field, to just play," running back Ricky Slade said. "I think I speak for all of us when I say we're all excited to get out on the field."
Some advice from Dotson to the rest of his teammates looking to make an impact this year? A simple reminder, one that will get them on the field and one that will keep them there.
"Every down matters," Dotson said. "You have to play every down like it's your last down."