Training Camp Central
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At this time last year, DaeSean Hamilton had not yet played a down in a Penn State uniform.
Hamilton sat out during much of spring ball in 2014 before ramping up during training camp.
The Virginia native caught fire in his debut at the Croke Park Classic with 11 receptions for 165 yards, setting the table for leading the Big Ten in receptions (82) in 2014.
Now, one year later, Hamilton has a year of learning under his belt and is ready to take another step forward with the rest of the receiving corps.
"I've been focused a lot more on the little details of the game," Hamilton said. "Being a student of the game helps you as a player. I try to focus on every aspect - routes, catching the ball, footwork - everything that helps you become a better player. It all begins with your mental approach."
Since the day he arrived, Hamilton worked to develop a rapport with quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Good friends off the field, the two have established the type of chemistry necessary to be a force on the field.
"Hack and I have been good friends since we got on campus," Hamilton said. "We've had a lot of classes together. We developed really good chemistry. Since then, it has carried over onto the field. Even when I wasn't cleared to play, we still watched film together. We've worked so much on timing. It's always important to stay on the same page."
That can be said for all of the receivers on the roster. From the most eldest, Geno Lewis and Matt Zanellato, to a host of second-year players in Saeed Blacknall, Chris Godwin and DeAndre Thompkins, the wide receivers and quarterbacks have taken significant steps forward in being one cohesive unit in year two of the offensive scheme.
"The confidence the group is going to be able to play with and the speed and how decisive they are able to be; those things all come with more experience," said head coach James Franklin. "Reading coverages and adjusting routes are two things that will help Hack. I think it's a big piece to making bigger plays, as well."
The entire unit spent the spring and summer looking for more ways to become versatile in the way they compete on the field. With more experience, Hamilton and company are on the cusp of a breakout campaign in 2015.
"The nice thing about our system is that the receivers can be very multiple," offensive coordinator John Donovan said. "They don't have to line up in the same place. They will play multiple spots. DaeSean has had a great summer."
Growth on the field hinges on the work most people do not see. It is the film work during the offseason and the field training when no one else that is around. Time will tell, but the foundation for a strong campaign has been laid.
"The receivers, working with me, they've pushed me. I've pushed them," Hackenberg said. "I always want to make sure the guys are holding me to the highest standard."
On the heels of a record-breaking redshirt freshman season, the sky is the limit for Hamilton.
The same can be said for the deeply talented and young collection of receivers set to take the field for the Nittany Lions in 2015.
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