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Dotson becoming go-to target for Penn State

Before Jahan Dotson played in a regular season game, he had been impressing both Penn State players and coaches.

James Franklin speaks to the media following practice Wednesday. -- Jarrod Prugar / DKPS

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Before Jahan Dotson played in a regular season game, he had been impressing both Penn State players and coaches. And now that he’s appeared in a few games, the impressions have yet to stop.

“Jahan has been one of my favorite receivers since he got here,” cornerback John Reid said after practice Wednesday night at the Lasch Football Complex. “He has a natural flow at receiver, he’s able to change his speed in the routes which a lot of people don’t do especially coming out of high school, most guys are full speed.”

Coaches and players have given Dotson, a true freshman, rave reviews. It has paid off in more playing time as the season has progressed. Dotson now has appeared in four games and has steadily received more reps with each game.

Dotson was banged up towards the end of training camp and shut down as a result, but it was clear to those involved the wide receiver position came naturally to him.

“He came in and had a lot of ability right away, in terms of naturally being able to catch the ball and body control. That’s something, at the wide receiver position, you hope that’s they have.” coach James Franklin said.

Those intangible skills Dotson has demonstrated have made the transition to college football much easier, but it also has helped his coaches hone his development as the season progressed.

“We coach techniques and fundamentals and those types of things, but it was obvious when he got here he was a very fluid guy, a very smooth guy, and catching the ball just came very natural to him,” Franklin said.

With that natural ability, it’s easy to see why Dotson has seen his playing time and his targets within the Penn State offense increase. The wide receiver from Nazareth, Pa. has hauled in five passes, and while that might not be a lot, they all have been for first downs.

That quarterback Trace McSorley has the confidence and chemistry with Dotson to find him when a first down is needed speaks volumes on how the offensive players feel about what he brings to the table. As Dotson continues to learn the playbook, his role within the offense is sure to keep growing as he remains a reliable option at receiver.

“The two biggest areas for him were getting stronger, which he did a pretty good job of,” Franklin said. “The other thing is the playbook, him getting comfortable and confident with the playbook so Trace could anticipate what he’s going to do.”

With comfort comes confidence, something most of the Penn State offense seems to be lacking. The more confidence Dotson can gain within the playbook and on the field is going to take his development to the next level and allow him more options to get on the field.

“I think confidence with the playbook, I think the more positions he can learn creates flexibility for us that we can move him around and play him in different spots, give us the opportunity to get the best three best guys on the field and then continue to do a good job in the weight room,” Franklin said.

Dotson will only continue to grow both as a player and within the offense, which bodes well for an offensive unit looking to find playmakers and confidence this year and also for an identity for years to come.

More from Franklin:

• On the growth of Yetur Gross-Matos: “Obviously, we were excited about Yetur, and we thought he had a chance to make a move this year. You never know. We’ve expected a lot of guys to make moves. Obviously, his production over a two-week period is as good as I’ve been around at the defensive line position in terms of a complete game, tackles, tackles for loss, sacks. We need him to play that well again this week.”

• On players getting into a rhythm: “I think in general, I that helps. Guys being able to stay in there and get a feel for what’s going on and how the flow of the game’s going and an opportunity to get some plays. A lot of times, depending on what position you play, you might be in there for a couple series and not have any action come your way.”

• On complimentary football: “I think that’s what it’s all about. Offense, defense and special teams all kinda having a big picture plan of how we have to do it, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that in my eight years as a head coach. This year we’re out of whack in terms of defensive reps, in terms of offensive reps, on the field in terms of production. It’s about third down. It’s about understanding what’s happening on offense, what’s happening on defense, how we call the game. It’s each component.”

More from Reid:

• On aches and pains: “Later in the season, everybody starts to feel those little aches that every team has. It’s just football. We’ve been doing this for a long time so we’re used to it. I’ve been playing a lot of snaps for a long time.”