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PSU Football Recruiting

Ejani Shakir’s Wide Receivers Coach Sees Qualities of Past Penn State Greats

Jahan Dotson’s hands.

Chris Godwin’s physicality.

K.J. Hamler’s speed.

There are Penn State fans who would give up their houses for a receiver with that combination, and for Jason Handy, a lifelong Penn State fan and the wide receivers coach at Winslow Township High School in Atco, New Jersey, Ejani Shakir has traits of all three.

Shakir is Penn State’s most recent commit, announcing his decision last Wednesday. He’s a four-star receiver according to 247Sports’ site rankings and will be playing football at Winslow for his senior season after spending three years at Pennsauken High School.

In finding out about Shakir, Penn State fans would probably liken him to Hamler more so than the other two Penn State greats. Hamler was known as a burner, which is a big reason the Denver Broncos took him in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.

“He has the K.J. Hamler explosiveness,” Handy said. “That catch and run, a runaway from defenders, he has that ability.”

Hamler was also a factor in Penn State’s special teams game, which is something that Winslow’s head coach, Kenny Scott, said Shakir posesses as well.

Shakir returned two punts for touchdowns for Pennsauken in the 2021 season.

“He can return punts, return kicks,” Scott said. “That’s just what he does. So, he has that gear. He can go into a second gear or third gear.”

Shakir’s speed also serves him well in track, where he ran a 200-meter dash in 21.82 seconds as a sophomore. This is another similarity Shakir has to Hamler, a multi-time state champion in track.

For Handy, Shakir also has traits of Penn State’s most recent standout receiver, Dotson.

Dotson is less than a month removed from going 16th overall to the Washington Commanders in this year’s NFL draft and finished his career at Penn State last November second in school history in receptions and fourth in receiving yards.

For Handy, Shakir is similar to Dotson for his ability to make tough, contested catches.

“If you go back and you look at a lot of plays Jahan Dotson had, he’d go up, and he’d attack the football at the highest point,” Handy said. “(Shakir) has that ability to catch the ball in traffic. He’s just a tough kid.”

Both Hamler and Dotson caused problems for opposing defenses out of the slot, and Handy sees Shakir doing the same while also being capable of playing on the outside.

“In the slot, you’re looking back at times when Penn State had Jahan Dotson in the slot, KJ Hamler in the slot where they created mismatches,” Handy said. “Get them on a strong safety, get them on a linebacker and that catch-and-run ability becomes that much more explosive.”

Godwin has had the most NFL success of the three former Penn State receivers mentioned, becoming an All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Godwin, who played at Middletown High School in Middletown, Delaware, was listed as 6-foot-1 and 205-pounds. Shakir is currently 6-foot, possibly getting closer to Godwin’s weight over the next year.

For all of Shakir’s flash and speed, Handy feels he can be physical, too, which has helped make Godwin a multi-millionaire.

Whether he becomes the next Godwin, Dotson or Hamler, Handy feels Shakir is a gamer who would be an asset to Penn State’s offense and its program.

“They’re going to get a guy that’s going to compete,” Handy said. “He’s not one that’s going to come out and get starstruck because he’s at Happy Valley.”

 

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