Jahan Dotson could have turned pro after his junior season at Penn State.
In the pandemic-themed 2020 season, Dotson established himself as the Nittany Lions No. 1 wide receiver. The clip of his one-handed catch over Ohio State’s Shaun Wade still surfaces on social media well more than 16 months later.
But after thinking it over, with the help of his family, James Franklin and the Penn State coaching staff, Dotson decided to stay in Happy Valley for his senior year.
He’ll probably end up a richer man because of it.
“I was a young junior,” Dotson said. “I wasn’t ready for the NFL.”
Now, Dotson believes he’s ready for the league and prepared to perform at the 2022 NFL Combine, which begins tomorrow and ends Sunday. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah expects him to run a 4.3.
Daniel Jeremiah says he expects Jahan Dotson to run in the 4.3's during the #NFLCombine next week.
"I think he has the best hands in the draft. He attacks the football. Has outstanding ability to adjust, can catch back-hip, above the rim, he can do it all." #PennState
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) February 25, 2022
In his senior year at Penn State, Dotson was by far the brightest spot of an underwhelming offense overall. The Nazareth, Pennsylvania, native caught 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Three of those touchdowns came Nov. 6 at Maryland, where Dotson broke the school’s single-game receiving record– one that had stood for more than 13 years– with 242 yards.
Dotson ended his Penn State career second on the school’s all-time receptions list and fourth in receiving yards– just 14 yards behind Deon Butler for third place.
With the NFL Draft less than two months away, Dotson generally projects to be no worse than a second-round pick, with some picking him to go in the first round.
It won’t be clear where Dotson ends up for a while, but it’s obvious that he’s in a better spot than he would have been if he declared for the draft as a junior.
“I would like to thank my coaches, my strength staff (for) just preparing me to be a pro,” Dotson said. “They really pushed me every single day, in the weight room, in the classroom, in the meeting rooms. So I just wanted to attribute to them for preparing me for this moment.”
One of the Penn State greats that Dotson passed on the all-time receiving list in his senior season was Chris Godwin. He played for the Nittany Lions from 2016 and has become an All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dotson never played with Godwin but got to know him while leaving his own impression at Penn State.
“He’s a guy that I trained with this past offseason when I was in Dallas, Texas, and you can see his work ethic,” Dotson said. “You could just see (from) the way he works why he’s having so much success. So I wish him nothing but the best and can’t wait to compete against him.”
It’s no guarantee that Dotson would be competing against Godwin and not with him. For one, Godwin is a free agent this spring, so the list of teams he could join is longer than in years previous.
Even if Godwin stays in Tampa, there’s a chance Dotson could join him. If Dotson goes in the first round, it likely would be closer toward the end, and the Buccaneers have the 27th overall pick. Dotson has been projected to Tampa Bay in the past, although he hasn’t met with the Buccaneers yet.
During his press conference, several reporters asked Dotson if he had met with specific teams.
Of the teams mentioned, Dotson said he’s met with the Dolphins, Steelers, Bills, Jets, Bears, Browns and Titans and hasn’t met with the Patriots, Packers, Eagles, Browns or Bucs.
In Dotson’s four years at Penn State, he played under three offensive coordinators; Ricky Rahne in 2018-19, Kirk Ciarrocca in 2020 and Mike Yurcich this past season.
Although a lack of stability could have led to confusion and frustration, Dotson feels that learning under different coordinators in college will help him in the pros.
“It’s actually one of the great keys that I take pride in my game,” he said. “Just because I know so much terminology in the football world. So going from coach to coach, it’s a great factor to me. Just learning different terminologies that coaches use has prepared me for the NFL.”
Dotson gained versatility in knowing football lingo and is versatile on the field, whether at receiver or punt returner. He gained 114 yards on 14 returns in 2021.
“He is lightning quick in and out of his breaks, but he always seems to be in control,” ESPN draft guru Todd McShay wrote last month. “His tape is smooth, and his routes are sharp. Despite a smaller catch radius, his ball skills are terrific, and he will pluck the ball on the run and/or adjust to throws with excellent body control.”
Dotson sees his versatility as one of his main strengths and looks forward to showing it off for whatever team drafts him.
“When I get the ball in my hands, it’s exciting,” he said. “I’m an explosive player, very fast, I can take the top off the defense. I’m just ready to make the most of my opportunity wherever I land.”