Penn State Football star wide receiver Jahan Dotson was selected 16th overall by the Washington Commanders in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
Jahan Dotson, a 4-year impact player in Happy Valley, was a part of an insane rush on wide receivers with six being selected within ten picks of each other and two NFL starters being traded for first round picks.
Dotson is the third member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Micah Parsons and Odafe Oweh were both top picks in the 2021 draft.
Now that Dotson is officially a professional football player, Penn State and head coach James Franklin can now market him to recruits and transfers. It’s no secret that Penn State has used the success of Saquon Barkley, Parsons and Oweh in recent years to help attract recruits to Penn State.
Receiver has been a position that Penn State has been able to market in recent years. Allen Robinson is now on his third NFL contract and Super Bowl champion Chris Godwin just signed a three-year, $60 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite the success of these two former Nittany Lions, neither was a first rounder, so that wasn’t a selling point to recruits. In fact, the last Penn State wide receiver to be drafted in the first round was Bryant Johnson back in 2003. Dotson was able to break that drought on Thursday night and make it a selling point going forward.
While all this is positive news for Franklin, it wasn’t always that way in recent years. Dotson being drafted as high as he did fixed a stigma around Franklin and wide receivers.
In 2018, Penn State landed the top wide receiver in the country in Justin Shorter. Shorter dealt with injuries his freshman year and did not see much action. The lack of playing time by Shorter was a reason why the 2019 top wide receiver, and Pennsylvania native, Julian Fleming decided to commit to Ohio State instead. Then during the 2019 season, Shorter decided to transfer out of Happy Valley.
Franklin’s reputation with wide receivers certainly took a bit of a hit after the situation with the top receivers in back-to-back recruiting classes. The success KJ Hamler had during the 2019 season helped the problem, but now with Dotson’s play over the last two years resulting in a first-round selection, Franklin should once again feel good about his work with wide receivers. The fact that Dotson and Shorter were members of the same recruiting class makes it sweeter as well.
Dotson’s success was a huge factor into why Western Kentucky transfer Mitchell Tinsley decided to transfer to Penn State. His play from him was also a reason why Penn State landed four commitments from wide receivers in the 2022 class. These commitments happened before Dotson even declared for the draft, showing the impact his play had off the field.
Now let’s look at who Penn State may market Dotson’s success to on the recruiting trail going forward.
The obvious answer is Pittsburgh area 4-star wide receiver Rodney Gallagher. Gallagher is one of the most coveted athletes on the East Coast in the 2023 recruiting cycle with offers from Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Oregon and Michigan State.
He is the type of playmaker that Penn State needs to put around its young quarterback room of Drew Allar, Beau Pribula, Christian Veilleux and Marcus Stokes in the coming years. The more Jahan Dotson type talents the staff can put around the quarterbacks, the better.
Franklin and wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield can now look at Gallagher, or any highly ranked wide receiver recruit, and ask if he would like to be the next Jahan Dotson. Not something that will be easy to say no to.
Even if Gallagher goes elsewhere, other targets will emerge for Penn State at wide receiver. You can bet that the main selling point by the staff will be the fact that they put a Penn State wide receiver into the first round of the NFL Draft for the first time in nearly two decades. Add in Robinson and Godwin’s monster deals, and there’s a lot to sell to a high school recruit.
The main goal of any high school recruit is to find the situation that will put him in the best place to succeed and reach the NFL. Now that Franklin has a first-round wide receiver on his list of accomplishments, recruiting that position will be even easier and more talent will now likely be headed to Happy Valley.
This great moment for Dotson will only add more momentum to Penn State on the recruiting trail and will give the program yet another former player to be proud of and promote. It’s unfortunate that neither Arnold Ebiketie or Jaquan Brisker could join Dotson in the first round, but overall Day One of the NFL Draft was a good one for Penn State.