Not only is the wide receiver position the place where Penn State has the most potential for the future, but it's also the place that they are the deepest and strongest for the 2015 season. There may not be any 2016 NFL Draft Picks in the group, but they're still the group that will give opponents fits all season long.
From the top of the depth chart to the bottom, the wide receivers are dripping with talent. The elder statesman of the group, Geno Lewis, while perhaps the most criticized of the group, is still capable of making catches like this. And this. And he can get open like this. Although he had a tendency to drop a pass here and there, and found himself in the doghouse on a few occasions this past season, Lewis has a ton of talent. When someone who is still relatively new to the wide receiver position can make plays like that, you're in good shape.
As you move down the line from Lewis, you have someone who could very well find his name listed in the upper echelon of the country-wide statistic sheets this season, in DaeSean Hamilton. Hamilton broke out last season (his redshirt freshman year) in a big way, to the tune of 82 receptions for 899 yards. He was Hackenberg's security blanket throughout the year, even while playing through injury for the latter half of the season. Fully healed and ready to go, expect to see Hamilton build on last year's breakthrough. He's in fantastic position to, once again, lead the Big Ten in receptions.
The jewels of the 2014 recruiting class were the three stud wide receivers that Bill O'Brien and James Franklin brought to Penn State, in Saeed Blacknall, Chris Godwin and D'Andre Thompkins. Two of them (Blacknall and Godwin) got the chance to show what they could do as true freshmen on the field, and they did not disappoint. Although they went through the normal hiccups that any freshman wide receiver would go through, such as running crisp and well-timed routes, they also both showed glimpses of their massive potential.
Blacknall didn't make much of an indent on the stat sheet when all was said and done, but he had one of the best and biggest catches of the season, when his one-handed, corner-of-the-endzone-while-being-held-by-a-cornerback grab put Penn State within striking distance of Ohio State. Expect much more from Blacknall this season.
Godwin's presence was felt a little more, recording two of more catches in seven of Penn State's games. He saved his best for last, though, catching seven passes for a whopping 140 yards, including the 72 yard touchdown pass to open the scoring. Godwin made the most progress of any of the freshmen last year, and has a chance to be one of the first to line up on the opening play this upcoming season.
Thompkins spent last season building muscle and gaining enough weight to stay alive at the college level. Expect to see him in a Tavon Austin/Darren Sproles role, where he will line up all over the field, and always be a big play threat.
Penn State once again recruited three stud wide receivers in the 2015 class, picking up four star talents Juwan Johnson, Irvin Charles and Brandon Polk. Polk will surely spend his first season redshirting, for similar reasons as Thompkins, but the other two will have chances to see the field as true freshman.
At 6'4", Juwan Johnson may already be the most physically intimidating receiver on the roster. He's built in the Calvin Johnson mold, and plays a similar style to Megatron. He's not the fastest player on the field, but he knows that he's fast enough, he knows that he's strong enough and he will simply bully his way to catching any ball in his zone. Johnson is possibly the most enticing future NFL draft pick of all the wide receivers, and he will likely get his chance to start showing off that skill set as early as this season.
Irvin Charles is similar to Johnson, in that he's not the kind of receiver who will simply run by you. Rather, he has the look of a reliable possession receiver who will wreck havoc late in the game. A strong runner after the catch, Charles is going to catch a lot of defensive backs who are trying to make a lazy tackle, and turn some simple catches in big gains. Like Johnson, Charles is a big body, at 6'4". He might not see the field consistently at first, but chances are, he will make some sort of impact this year.
Penn State has a lot of position groups that are fully loaded on talent right now, and they are only improving with each recruiting class that comes in. However, the best and most dangerous group for the future, is also the best and most dangerous group for the 2015 season. And that is the wide receiving corps.