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Penn State's revamped receiving corps loses an option with exit of former 4-star recruit

DEREK LEVARSE
The (Wilkes-Barre) Times-Leader (TNS)
John Dunmore

Penn State’s revamped wide receiver corps will have one fewer option for this truncated 2020 season.

Redshirt freshman wideout John Dunmore, a former four-star recruit, has not been with the Nittany Lions in camp and his future with the program is up in the air.

“John Dunmore has withdrawn from Penn State this semester for personal reasons,” the school confirmed on Wednesday. Lions247 first reported the move.

Speaking to reporters on a video call after Wednesday’s practice, Lions coach James Franklin didn’t shine much light on the situation when asked if Dunmore might return to the team in the spring.

“Yeah, we’ll just take it one day at a time. I’m not sure,” Franklin said. “As you know, with things like this over six years (as coach at Penn State), I’m not going to get into a whole lot of specifics and details. That’s not fair to John and his family. I can’t predict what the future holds.”

As of Wednesday evening, Dunmore had not entered his name into the NCAA’s online transfer portal, and it’s unclear if the Florida native has any interest in switching schools.

Dunmore is just the second Penn State scholarship player to not return to the team during the coronavirus pandemic. He joins star linebacker Micah Parsons, who is opting out to prepare for the NFL draft. A third player, true freshman defensive lineman Brandon Taylor, was dismissed for a violation of team rules.

The top-rated receiver in Penn State’s 2019 signing class, Dunmore was one of the recruiting coups by running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, a Florida native with extensive connections in the Sunshine State.

Dunmore redshirted last season, appearing only briefly late in a lopsided win over Purdue.

With leading receiver KJ Hamler gone to the NFL and a new position coach taking over in former Purdue record-setter Taylor Stubblefield, the Lions’ depth chart remains wide open with the season set to open in another two weeks.

Junior Jahan Dotson looks to be the leader of the group that has just a few returning scholarship players that includes Daniel George, Cam Sullivan-Brown, TJ Jones and former walk-on Isaac Lutz, who plays primarily on special teams.

Dunmore and Jones were second-year players looking to break into the rotation.

“Two guys that are very hard-working, are very competitive, very confident,” Franklin said toward the end of last season. “Those are tough conversations, guys that obviously expect to play and we end up redshirting them. I think early on those things are tough, but then they kind of figure it out and get it and understand.

“They’re starting to fill out physically. Their bodies are changing. And then the adjustment to school. Those guys are doing good. I’ve been really impressed with them. TJ is so positive. He’s got a huge smile on his face. Dunmore is the same way. They’ve been great.”

Needing a boost to the unit, the Lions signed five receivers in their 2020 class — KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Parker Washington, Jaden Dottin, Malick Meiga and Lackawanna College transfer Norval Black.

Both Lambert-Smith — who originally enrolled back in January and was with the program before the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down — and Washington were mentioned by teammates as early head-turners in practice last week.

Numbers still improving: Penn State had another encouraging round of COVID-19 testing numbers, which were released Wednesday.

The school said it tested 1,211 tests of athletes from all sports with just three positives and three results pending from Sept. 26 through Oct. 2.

Daily testing of the football team began on Sept. 30 and will continue by Big Ten mandate for the entire season.

The athletic department saw a spike in cases at the start of September, coinciding with the return of the rest of the student body to campus. But positivity rate has steadily decreased since then.