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Two more Penn State standouts opt out of Outback Bowl to prepare for NFL draft

The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson gains yardage during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in State College,Pa.,Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Penn State's Jahan Dotson, one of the most accomplished wide receivers in program history, announced Monday on Twitter that he intends to declare for the 2022 NFL draft and not play in Saturday's Outback Bowl.

Dotson, a 5-foot-11, 184-pound wide receiver from Nazareth, Pa., who is considered a first-round pick in many mock drafts, finished his 2021 season with 91 receptions (11th in the FBS) for 1,182 yards (15th) and 12 touchdowns (tied for seventh). His 7.6 catches per game ranked seventh.

Dotson made first-team All-Big Ten and was named a third-team All-America by the Associated Press.

His teammate, fifth-year senior safety Jaquan Brisker, another first-team All-Big Ten player, announced earlier Monday that he also has withdrawn from the Outback Bowl and will enter the NFL draft.

In his statement, Dotson said it has been "nothing but special" to play for the Nittany Lions for the last four seasons.

"To my teammates and coaches, I appreciate you for pushing me every single day and shaping me to be the man I am today," he said. "To my family, I love you guys more than you could ever imagine. This journey has been nothing short of amazing and I can't wait to continue it with you by my side."

Dotson considered leaving after his junior season of 2020 but decided to return, saying he had "unfinished business" to take care of after the Nittany Lions finished with a 4-5 record in the COVID-19-shortened season. Penn State is 7-5 going into Saturday's Outback Bowl against Arkansas in Tampa, Fla.

With his 4.33-second speed in the 40-yard dash and his sure hands, Dotson has received much attention from NFL scouts and draft analysts. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., had Dotson as his No. 8 prospect in October and both he and ESPN colleague Todd McShay have him going in the first round in their latest rankings. He also is ranked as the No. 18 overall player and No. 3 wide receiver by CBSSports.com.

Dotson completed his Penn State career with 183 receptions for 2,757 yards and 25 touchdowns, and a streak of 41 games in which he had caught at least one pass. He is second in program history in catches, tied for second in TD receptions, and fourth in yardage. His 23 scoring connections with quarterback Sean Clifford are a school record.

"He's smart, he's got elite ball skills, maybe some of the best ball skills that I've ever been around," Penn State coach James Franklin said in an October interview. "He is smooth and fluid. He doesn't look like he's running sometimes, but no one can catch him. I think he's added more of a physical presence to his game now."

Brisker, who transferred after two years at Lackawanna College in Scranton, played three seasons with the Nittany Lions, including an extra year granted by the NCAA because of COVID. He finished fourth on the team in tackles this season with 64, including six tackles for losses.

"I will be forgoing our bowl game and I will be focusing on preparing for the 2022 NFL draft," he wrote on Twitter. "I've been waiting for this all my life and I can't wait to see what the future holds."

Brisker is ranked No. 47 on the list of NFL draft-eligible prospects compiled by CBSSports.com, and the No. 2 safety. He and Dotson are the third and fourth Penn State starters who have opted out of the bowl, joining linebackers Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks.