Position Profile: Receivers
August 22, 2011 – | No Comment

With under two weeks to go until Penn State’s season opener against Indiana State, we’re officially back in football mode here at quebecpenspinning. We might be a bit late with this set of season previews, …

Read the full story »

The Penn State All-Decade Team: Wide Receivers

Submitted by on December 28, 2009No Comment

To celebrate the upcoming new year, and new decade, we’ll be offering a retrospective here at quebecpenspinning. Over the next two weeks, we’ll reveal all the members of quebecpenspinning’s All-Decade team, comprising of the best Penn Staters from 2000-2009. Don’t agree with our picks? Let your voice be heard in the comments! We continue today with a look back at Penn State’s best wide receivers of the past decade.

For a program that embodies old-school, tradition, and even an unwillingness to change, you’d expect Penn State to have produced a dearth of big time wide receivers, sticking to a ground-and-pound offense that minimizes risk.  But you’d be dead wrong. Joe Paterno’s NCAA-champion 1982 squad was the first college football team to throw the ball more often then they ran it, and since then, Penn State has produced a number of stars at wide receiver, from Kenny Jackson and Bobby Engram to and Joe Jurevicius and O.J. McDuffie.  As the decades have gone by, more and more Nittany Lion wideouts have stood out, entered the NFL, and made their mark on a program that’s evolved and kept up with the times more than most observers would like to believe.  This decade has been marked by a trio of wide receivers, who started together for the past four years, by an offense that struggled to move the ball at the early part of the decade, and by some outstanding running backs, and the two wide receivers selected below for our All-Decade team represent the best of Penn State over the past 10 years.

Deon Butler (2004-2008) chose to walk-on to Penn State rather than take a scholarship at a 1-AA school, like Fordham or Georgetown, and it was a decision that certainly paid dividends for Penn State.  Despite coming in to the program as a defensive back, Butler traded in his role defending passes for one that would let him catch them, a move that looks brilliant in retrospect.  After an initial redshirt season, Butler burst onto the scene in 2005, and along with fellow freshmen Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams, became a starter and top target for Michael Robinson.  After Williams’ injury that forced him to miss the last 6 games of the season, Butler became the Lions’ #1 receiver, and ended up with 37 catches and close to 700 yards to go along with 9 touchdowns, leading the team in  each category, and setting Penn State rookie records in each.  As Butler matured, he only improved, and despite the erraticism of Anthony Morelli, caught 48 and 47 passes in his sophomore and junior seasons, though his touchdown numbers decreased, and he caught just 6 over the two year period.  In fact, Butler continued to be the model of consistency, as he caught 47 passes once again in his senior season, though he became more of a deep threat, averaging over 17 yards per catch to go along with 7 touchdowns in 2008.  Butler led the Lions in receiving yardage in each of his 4 seasons, and in catches for three of them, and became Penn State’s all-time leading receiver in his third-to-last game against Indiana, finishing his productive career with 189 catches.  He also holds the Penn State record for most receiving yards in a game, with 216, set in a game against Northwestern in 2006.  At the NFL combine in 2009, Butler ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, among the top times of any player, and was drafted in the 3rd round by Seattle, for whom he has caught 15 passes this season.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/2003/draft/players/images/bryant_johnson.jpgBryant Johnson (1999-2002) had trouble finding his way into the rotation at wide receiver during his first few seasons, but once he became a starter, Johnson put up some of the most gaudy stats of any wide receiver in recent memory, and earned himself a spot on this all-decade team.  As a true freshman, Johnson was used sporadically as a deep threat; though he caught just 7 passes, they were for an average of 20 yards each, including 2 touchdown catches, one on a 65-yard bomb.  Johnson saw even less playing time as Penn State struggled mightily on offense in 2000, catching just 4 passes for 85 yards, with 1 touchdown, a 50-yard reception against Michigan.  Once Zack Mills took over in 2001, however, Bryant Johnson became the beneficiary of a suddenly competent passing offense.  Breaking out in his junior season, Johnson caught 51 passes, nearly twice as many as Penn State’s next leading receiver, for 866 yards and 3 touchdowns.  His senior season, 2002, was the year of Larry Johnson, but Bryant managed to have another standout year, with 48 catches for an eye-popping 917 yards and 4 touchdowns, and found himself a first-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the following April.  The sixth Nittany Lion with more than 100 catches, and 2nd all-time in receiving yards with just over 2000, Bryant Johnson left his name in the Penn State record books, and even returned to school in 2005 to earn his degree.  Johnson has also had sustained success in the NFL, catching 40 or more passes each year from 2004 to 2008.

Honorable mentions: Derrick Williams (see: Special Teams), Jordan Norwood, Tony Johnson

top related stories
you may also like