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Penn State wide receiver K.J. Hamler declares for the 2020 NFL draft

JON SAUBER
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Penn State wide receiver K.J. Hamler (1) before an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
  • Penn State wideout K.J. Hamler has declared for the 2020 NFL draft.
  • Hamler is projected as a second-day pick (second or third round) of the draft.
  • He had 904 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 56 receptions this season.

K.J. Hamler has made his decision.

The redshirt sophomore wide receiver will forego his final two years of eligibility at Penn State and enter the 2020 NFL draft. Hamler, the team’s leading receiver, announced the decision via his personal Twitter account three days after Penn State’s 53-39 win over the Memphis Tigers in the Cotton Bowl.

The redshirt sophomore put up 46 receiving yards on two receptions in his final game as a Nittany Lion.

Hamler thanked several people in his written statement, including the Nittany Lion fan base.

“Last, but certainly not least, thank you to the best fans in college football,” the statement read. “107k strong and proud. We are... Penn State!!!! I will forever be a Nittany Lion!”

The wideout will be sorely missed by the Penn State offense after a very successful two years as the team’s best weapon. Hamler had a prolific first season on the field as a redshirt freshman in 2018. He finished the year with 754 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 42 receptions that year, establishing himself as the premier weapon in the offense.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) and wide receiver KJ Hamler celebrate the team's 28-21 win over Michigan in an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

He followed that with 904 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 56 receptions this season to close out his college career.

Hamler’s departure means the Nittany Lions will bring back nine of their 11 offensive starters next year with starting guard Steven Gonzalez also moving on. Gonzalez’s departure will be mitigated by the fact that his replacement is likely to be Mike Miranda or C.J. Thorpe, who split reps at the other starting guard spot this season.

The unit is in for a new look in 2020 without Hamler and with the departure of offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, who left for the head coach job at Old Dominion. New offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca will have plenty of talent to work with, but will need to find a new primary option on the perimeter.

Sophomore Jahan Dotson and redshirt freshman Daniel George will be the two receivers who need to step up the most to fill the void Hamler leaves behind. Dotson finished 2019 with 27 catches for 488 yards and five touchdowns while George had only 100 yards on nine catches, leaving plenty of room for improvement to reach Hamler’s role. Barring a massive jump in production from another wide receiver, Dotson and George are likely to enter the 2020 season as the team’s best wide receivers.

Hamler is currently projected as a Day 2 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, but will have plenty of time to raise his stock during the NFL Combine and the rest of the pre-draft process.

He and several other Penn Staters will hope to hear their name called early during the draft, which runs from April 23-25.