In one of the biggest surprises of the draft season, Penn State redshirt sophomore WR K.J. Hamler is leaving early to enter the NFL draft. It had long been anticipated that the team would lose a couple of underclassmen. Yetur Gross Matos leaving was a foregone conclusion. Hamler however was a gut punch to the squad. K.J. is a special type of player but he had yet to reach his true potential. Let’s take a look at the player and the situation he leaves in his wake.
As I alluded above, K.J. Hamler had yet to reach his full potential as a college football player. He flashed in nearly every facet of the game from offense to special teams. Despite all the flashy plays he never managed to put together a 1,000 yard season.
At just 5’9 176 lbs Hamler is not the biggest of players. He makes his yards with his speed and lateral mobility. Few players in the nation brought his type of skill set to the table. Some of the players that come to mind when attempting to compare Hamler are Peter Warrick, Tavon Austin, and other players of that body type. You can see the nasty type of moves he brought to the team below.
With moves like that, it is not hard to imagine Hamler being a valued member of an NFL team. The question will be did he leave school too early? Would he have benefitted by coming back to school for one more season in order to get his draft stock up? We will never know at this point.
The decision is made all the more curious by his close relationship with his QB Sean Clifford. He and Hamler had played together going all the way back to high school. In an emotional tweet his QB wished him well in the next step of his journey holding no ill will towards his good friend.
Fortunately for Penn State, despite the loss of their top WR the team hit the position hard in recruiting. Penn State landed a trio of 4-star WRs in KeAndre Lambert (Norfolk, VA), Jayden Dotton (Suffield, Conn), and the prized Parker Washington (Richmond, TX).
The efforts to bolster the WR room did not stop there. Franklin and company brought in highly talented JUCO transfer Norval Black. Black in particular will likely come into a significant role. As a JUCO player He already has some post high school experience under his belt. He is also a big play weapon who can help replace some of the explosive plays Hamler made.
I think it is also safe to assume that incoming OC Kirk Ciarrocca will make extensive use of 12 personnel featuring stud Junior TE Pat Freiermuth and incoming 4-star Freshman TE Theo Johnson. It is also likely safe to assume that PSU will make extensive use of an impressive group of RBs featuring Cotton Bowl MVP Journey Brown and last year’s super freshman Noah Cain.
While the cupboard is certainly not bare in Happy Valley to loss of K.J. Hamler stings nonetheless. Few players were tagged for a bigger role in Ciarrocca’s incoming scheme. He has traditionally made extensive use of his top WR. Hopefully for his sake, Hamler will not find the market cold in a deep WR class. There is always a risk, but we wish him all the best in the NFL.
Luckiest man alive. Father, Husband, Son, Brother, and college football enthusiast. Ph.D in 20th Century U.S. History. Love researching and writing about things that interest me. Looking forward to sharing my musings on college football with all the readers of this amazing website. Follow me on Twitter: @ReflipeWThenuz