The Penn State receiving game has been up-and-down the last couple years, with drops plaguing the group as a whole. Add in some departures, whether to the NFL (KJ Hamler) or to the transfer portal (Juwan Johnson and Justin Shorter), and the 2020 receiving group is suddenly a bunch of fresh-faced youngsters that will need to prove themselves.
So who will lead the Lions in receptions in 2020? Here are a few candidates:
Jahan Dotson, JR, WR
Jahan Dotson is back as the lone returning starter from 2019, and will bring some much-needed experience to the receiving group. As the #3 target for Sean Clifford most of the season, Jahan reeled in 27 catches for 488 yards, and five touchdowns. Assuming he takes the lead as the top WR, Dotson should expect to see his targets increase, and he could push toward a 1,000-yard season.
Pat Freiermuth, JR, TE
Mr. Moose has returned as well, and should be considered one of the top tight ends in the country in 2020. Pat was often the #2 target for Clifford last year, and he snagged 43 catches for 507 yards, and seven touchdowns. Given how reliable his hands are, Sean may look to him a bit more often in 2020, but expect teams to gameplan around the behemoth TE.
After those top two players, it’s a who’s who of possibilities. At WR, there’s RS JR Cam Sullivan-Brown, RS SO Daniel George, RS FR John Dunmore and TJ Jones, and true FR KeAndre Lambert-Smith, among others. At least two of those players will need to step up just to fill out the starting trio at WR. Be real nice if one or two could also separate from the pack and become an actual reliable option through the air
At TE, RS SO Zack Kuntz will look to finally make an impact on the field after spending a couple years bulking up. RS FR Brenton Strange and true FR Theo Johnson will also look to get into the mix, but the TE position will largely remain an unknown until we see just exactly how new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca will incorporate TEs. In his last few stops, he hasn’t had much talent at the position, and instead has relied on his WRs to do the heavy lifting in the passing game. It could be a nice new wrinkle for him to trot out multiple tight ends and let the players do their thing.
What say you? Who should we expect to lead the Lions in receptions in 2020?