UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wide receivers coach Josh Gattis joined this week's assistant coaches conference call during Michigan State week.
Covering everything from the Spartan secondary to the future of the Nittany Lion wide receiver unit, catch up on a few highlights from today's teleconference.
Youth Status Update
When asked about a few of the younger wide receivers on the team, Gattis noted he has been tremendously pleased with that he has seen in Sunday scrimmages and even during the bye week developmental practices.
"It's exciting to see all those guys," Gattis said. "To see how hard those guys compete and how hard they take coaching and how their development has been."
"When you specifically talk about our receivers, it excites you when you think about KJ [Hamler], Mac [Hippenhammer] and also Cam Sullivan-Brown. I think all three have unique traits that they are going to bring to the table."
"KJ obviously his speed, I think he's a difference maker with his speed and his quickness. I think he's a guy that could possibly be our fastest wide receiver on the field. He's going to be an exciting player and so is Mac Hippenhammer as he continues to physically develop, he's got a great skillset. He's a very pure wide receiver. Reminds me a lot of DeAndre Thompkins in his ability to play inside and outside. I'm really excited about those guys as well as Cam Sullivan-Brown, who I think is going to have a very bright future for us, a kid who was very mature early on in camp and really had a great camp as far as training camp."
Turning a Weakness into
Gattis is also pleased with the progress that Thompkins has made since he arrived on campus, calling him probably the Nittany Lions' best pure wide receiver on the field at this point in the season.
"When DeAndre came in he was more of a pure, fast athlete," Gattis said. "He was a kid who could run in a timing standpoint, but I don't know if he played up to that speed on the field. Physically, he was more of a wildcat quarterback, played a little bit of the position in high school and he had to get caught up a little at the position. We've seen the guy develop. I have a thing when DeAndre came in, his weakness was his physicality and I think DeAndre has taken his greatness weakness and turned it into his greatest strength."
Looking at Charles
Outside of the tremendous impact he's had on special teams this year, Gattis noted that in his role as a wide receiver, there's still a bright future for Irvin Charles.
"Irv's going to continue to play a lot of football for us," Gattis said. "Obviously, I think he's a difference maker right now from a special teams standpoint. When you think about the things his is blessed with, his speed, his strength and his size. There are only so many guys who are 6-4, 220-pounds-plus who can run like he can."
"Irv's going to have a great feature here. He's going to be ready for his opportunities when they come and he's going to be ready for them. Obviously, he is in his role now, but even more so in his role as a receiver. I wish we could play just three or four guys but unfortunately, we can't and when you're dealing with six guys you can't have them all have 30-plus catches and 700 yards, it just doesn't work out that way, there's only one football."
On the Michigan State
When asked to compare and contrast Michigan State's secondary from 2016 to where it's at in 2017, Gattis made note of last year's youth at the position. Looking beyond just the secondary though, Gattis made it clear that the Nittany Lions will have to prepare for the challenge the entire Michigan State defense presents.
"When you look at last year's secondary, they were playing with a lot of true freshmen," Gattis said. "They had true freshmen at corners and playing with some young guys in the back end. They play with a very aggressive style defense, committed to stopping the run, trying to outnumber you in different ways."