STATE COLLEGE — It took Malick Meiga longer to see the playing field than Penn State coaches expected, but the sophomore made his collegiate debut in Week 7 against Illinois.
While he didn’t register any stats in the contest, it marked a milestone for the 6-foot-4, 200-pound wideout who faced an injury during the preseason that kept him sidelined.
“He had a couple of setbacks early on in the season, and now he’s back full time,” Penn State wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield said. “You have to knock some rust off. He knows he has to get on the JUGS and work every possible catch that can be thrown at him so that he can continue to trust himself.”
Meiga recorded his first collegiate catch on Nov. 6 against Maryland. A week later, he tallied an 8-yard reception in the fourth quarter of the Nittany Lions’ contest against Michigan.
It’s a trend Penn State coaches hope continues as Meiga establishes his role at the position.
“He’s an awesome kid,” Penn State coach James Franklin said of Meiga. “He’s got a lot of things that we look for in the recruiting process. He’s big and strong and fast. One of the faster players we have on the team. One of the tallest receivers we have in the program right now. and he and Parker (Washington) are like best friends. They’re constantly together. Whether it’s on the JUGS machine or working in pre-practice or post-practice.”
The Nittany Lions boasts one of the most talented receivers in the FBS in senior Jahan Dotson (993 yards, nine touchdowns). Washington (590 yards, two touchdowns), a sophomore, for the second consecutive season has established himself as a solid No. 2 behind Dotson.
Fellow second-year wideout KeAndre Lambert-Smith has produced in his role in the rotation, catching 28 passes for 419 yards with two touchdowns.
With a backlog at the position right now, opportunities for catches might not abundant for Meiga, but gaining experience against Big Ten defenses and running routes in real-time are invaluable.
“I think he’s coming along great,” Penn State wide receiver Cam Sullivan-Brown said. “Malick has so much talent. The potential is always there, and I think with more practice and more reps in the game, he’s going to be something special.”
Meiga arrived at Penn State from Canada as part of the Nittany Lions’ 2020 recruiting class. ESPN rated him the second-best Canadian prospect from the class, while 247Sports ranked him as Quebec’s No. 1 recruit.
With three games remaining on Penn State’s schedule this year, Meiga will have the opportunity to close out his sophomore season with momentum heading into 2022.
“I think he has a chance the rest of the season and long term to be that type of home run threat for us, a guy that can really take the top off the coverage and try to get him involved that way,” Franklin said. “So, I have a lot of faith and am very encouraged about Malick and his growth since he’s been here, and he’s one of the more likable, one of the more popular guys on our team.”