Ever since his breakout performance in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl, Chris Godwin has been a complete force of nature as the Nittany Lions leading receiver the past two seasons. Godwin decided to forgo his senior season to prepare for his dreams of playing in the NFL, and there’s little doubt he has what it takes to have a long and successful career in the pros. With Godwin out of the picture, who will take his spot and lead Penn State in receptions in 2017? Let’s take a look at some of the likely candidates:
Mike Gesicki- Gesicki had the most receptions for a returning player, and should be among the top tight ends in the nation. He will once again play a major part in the passing game as offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will regularly look to use his size and athleticism to create mismatches.
Saeed Blacknall- If it wasn’t for Blacknall’s suspension in the Rose Bowl, he may have been the clear-cut favorite going into the season. Blacknall finally had his breakout performance in the Big Ten Championship Game, where he hauled in six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He certainly has big-play ability, but needs to become a more consistent part of the passing game.
DaeSean Hamilton- Hamilton led the Big Ten in receiving as a freshman in 2014, but has seen his numbers decline each of the past two seasons. He will be looked to as a leader in 2017, and with his ability to get open and improved chemistry with trace McSorley, could see his number of targets greatly increase as a senior.
Irvin Charles- James Franklin raised eyebrows last season when he declared Charles as the most talented receiver he’s ever coached. With improved focus and understanding of the game, Charles could very easily have a major breakout season in 2017. Once he puts it all together, he will be incredibly difficult for opposing secondaries to handle.
Juwuan Johnson- Like Charles, Johnson has an incredible combination of size and athleticism at 6-4, 225 lbs. Also like Charles, he had only two receptions as a redshirt freshman in 2016. Johnson will become a bigger part of the offense in 2017, and has the talent to have a breakout season.
DeAndre Thompkins- Thompkins emerged as a deep threat early in 2016, but also disappeared at times. As the offense begins to fully comprehend Moorhead’s system in year two, Thompkins speed should add a very dangerous wrinkle.
Brandon Polk- Don’t forget about Polk as he returns from a redshirt season, and see above as you consider his dangerous speed in Moorhead’s attack.
So what say you, BSD reader? Who is most likely to lead Penn State in reception in 2017?