It may seem like DaeSean Hamilton has been at Penn State forever. In truth, Hamilton has been an incredibly valuable part of the the Nittany Lions offense ever since James Franklin took over in 2014. Even with an extremely talented group of wide receivers waiting in the wings, something will seem a bit off on Sept. 1, 2018 when #5 is no longer split wide when Penn State takes its first possession against Appalachian State.
How He Got Here
All-time Penn State legend Allen Robinson may have left some huge shoes to fill when he left following the 2013 season, but Hamilton was up for the challenge. From the start of his redshirt freshman season in 2014, Hamilton showed a penchant for finding holes in coverage. His career started off with a bang as he hauled in 11 receptions for 165 yards against Central Florida. He would lead the Big Ten in receptions that season, and be named second-team All-Big Ten.
Hamilton would see his numbers decline in 2015 with the emergence of Chris Godwin, but he always remained a reliable, sure-handed target. In 2016, Hamilton developed a case of the yips early in the season. For the first time in his career, he struggled catching the ball despite having far-and-away the best hands on the team, and perhaps the Big Ten, for the previous two seasons. However, he would go on to right the ship and make several big plays down the stretch. His best performance of the season came in the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin, where he contributed eight receptions for 118 yards.
What to Expect in 2017
One thing is certain about Hamilton’s approach to the offseason- he has been working incredibly hard to have his best season yet at Penn State and help the team reach even greater heights in 2017. Wide receivers coach Josh Gattis hasn’t been able to stop praising Hamilton since the Rose Bowl, and seems to expect huge things from the senior leader of his unit.
In regards to playing time, Hamilton is the most experienced member of the Penn State offense. He will be counted on as one of the team’s foremost leaders, especially as he leads a young and talented group of wide receivers who may become the very best unit in the nation by season’s end.
Barring injury, Hamilton will also leave Penn State as the all-time leader in receptions in program history. He is currently just 19 catches away from breaking Deon Butler’s record, and should have no problem surpassing the likes of Derrick Williams, Bobby Engram and Allen Robinson.
But most importantly, Hamilton has the opportunity to become Penn State’s top receiver once again in 2017. Chris Godwin is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after leaving with one more season of eligibility remaining, and Saeed Blacknall, Irvin Charles and Juwan Johnson all need to prove consistent before becoming the primary target that McSorley looks to when a big play is needed or to move the chains for a crucial first down. Hamilton has already proved he can be that guy, and much more.