STATE COLLEGE – After playing his first two seasons under two wide receivers coaches, Penn State rising junior wideout Jahan Dotson is encouraged by his early interactions with Taylor Stubblefield, his third position coach in as many seasons.
Stubblefield arrived at Penn State in early January, bringing with him not only 12 years of coaching experience, but an illustrious college career at Purdue during which he set the NCAA’s record for receptions. Stubblefield still ranks sixth in career receptions.
“We’ve been in contact a lot over this quarantine break,” Dotson said. “I got a real good feel for him. He’s a great guy. I just can’t wait to be around him and get started working together and seeing what he’s going to teach me. I know he has so many great things to teach me. He was a great receiver back in his time. I just can’t wait to learn what he has to give.”
Dotson returned to State College on Monday, a week before players can participate in voluntary workouts. This week, he and his teammates are staying in area hotels as part of Penn State’s quarantine protocol.
“Right now, I’m back in State College and waiting to work out with the team, as we’re going to start workouts pretty soon,” he said. “Right now, I’ve been kind of working out on my own, working out with a couple of my teammates, keeping it in small groups and trying to stay ready for the season.”
Dotson enters 2020 as the Nittany Lions’ most seasoned wide receiver. With the departure of KJ Hamler to the Denver Broncos last month, Penn State hopes Dotson emerges as a consistent target to offset the loss of Hamler's production. Hamler led the position group in yards receiving each of the last two seasons.
Dotson tallied a career-high 488 yards receiving and five touchdowns in 2019, and he’s accumulated 691 yards receiving and five touchdown grabs during his two-year career as a Nittany Lion.
A quartet of Nittany Lions receivers — Daniel George (redshirt sophomore), Cam Sullivan-Brown (redshirt junior), John Dunmore (redshirt freshman) and TJ Jones (redshirt freshman) — figure to complement Dotson at the position.
Last year, George recorded nine receptions for 100 yards, while Sullivan-Brown posted eight catches for 56 yards during an injury-riddled season. Jones and Dunmore didn’t accumulate any receiving stats, but both came to Penn State as highly-touted prep prospects.
Having guarded all of them in some capacity during practices last year, Penn State cornerback Keaton Ellis said he’s confident in the group’s abilities.
“I’m excited about everybody: DG, the Florida boys JD and TJ, Cam Brown, too, who’s battled through some stuff,” Ellis said. “They’re talented, and they’re hungry, too. In practice, they’re hard workers, and they’re ready to step up. That’s their mentality — all of them. They’re ballers. They’re going to step up and play, and I’m just excited to watch them.”
Dotson offered a similar observation.
“I came in with Daniel my freshman year, and I’ve just seen him do so many great things on the practice field,” Dotson said. “The first year, he came in and broke the longest touchdown reception record. He just does so many great things, and he has so many wild moments that I just can’t wait for him to put them on display this year in games. The two freshmen we have – JD and TJ – those guys are just going to floor us. I say this a lot, their work ethic is really what stands out to me. That’s what I like most about them. They’re always so hungry. They’re always so ready to put in more work, and they’re always so eager to learn stuff.”
As questions abound regarding Penn State’s wide receiving corps heading into 2020, Dotson said the focus is to show teammates the receivers are capable.
“I think, in my mind, that we just have to come out and first prove to our team that we’re the best group on the field every day at practice,” Dotson said. “It has to start from Day One. Starting these workouts on Monday, we have to prove that we’re the best group on the team (and) work the hardest because a lot of people have us as one of the weaker spots on the team. So we just have to come out every day and prove to everyone that we’re one of the best groups on the field every time we step on the field.”