Although not known as a wide receiver factory, the Penn State Nittany Lions football program has placed several players in the NFL over the past few years. DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler, Chris Godwin, and Allen Robinson have all held value as fantasy assets as of late, with Robinson and Godwin in particular leading the way for dynasty rosters.
Penn State’s current receiver room has two notable talents returning. Jahan Dotson impressed last season as a deep threat, finishing with 52 catches, 884 yards, and 8 touchdowns in a weak passing attack. True freshman Parker Washington also had a strong year in the slot, with 36 catches, 489 yards, and 6 touchdowns. But behind these two players, there is not much talent on the roster.
Enter Lonnie White Jr. White, the 4-star prospect and 27th ranked WR in the 247 composite White hails from Malvern Prep, located just outside the Philly suburbs. As the best player on the roster, White played a variety of roles but excelled initially as a wildcat quarterback. However, it was clear that White did not have the arm talent to play QB at the next level, so White transitioned to WR full time in 2020. Although the team only played four full games his senior year, White still produced with a 17/369/5 stat line.
Because of his designation as an Athlete and his past as a quarterback, White did not receive many P5 offers. Outside of Penn State, his biggest offers were from Pitt, Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee. Ultimately, he decided to stay close to home and attend PSU.
For his size, White is a smooth-mover. 247 has him listed at 6’2 210, and I would believe that. He dwarfs most others on the field and looks like he has a college-ready body. He also has good burst for his size, allowing him to blow by high school defenders. I suspect this skill will translate rather well to college.
Catching Technique/Hands/Catch Radius
When I grade hands, I do so a bit differently than others may. I combine catching technique, catch radius, and contested catch ability into a single category. Of all the players I have watched in this class, White may have the best combination of these traits.
Because of his history as a wildcat QB, White has really good vision and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. This is a skill that should translate very well to college and help him get on the field quickly. In addition to White’s vision, his understanding of angles and the ability to use blockers stands out when watching his junior year snaps especially.
White is also just so big that he can be difficult to bring down at times. 6’2 210 as a high school senior is no joke, as that’s a big player even by collegiate standards. White obviously will not have quite the same size advantage at the next level, but his physicality at that size and his elusiveness will still help him get some designed touches and hopefully gain a quarterback’s trust in the flow of the offense.
Beyond the physical and technical gifts, I am a firm believer that mentality is the most important characteristic for receivers. I prefer a receiver that wants to destroy the man across from him on every play. Embarrass him. Make him want to quit football forever. White brings that sort of mentality to the position. Whether he is attacking the ball in the air with his strong hands or blocking an opposing defensive back, White wants to win every play. Those are the guys I bet on to make it to the next level, and I am pushing my chips all in on Lonnie White Jr.
WHAT FORMATS AM I BUYING IN?
Hearing about the pros and cons of a player is nice, but most of the top guys in a recruiting class are good athletes that have tons of good offers and potential through the roof. So the big question becomes, in which formats should I be targeting this player? And where should I draft him?
Unless you play in a very deep devy league (talking Crater Lake deep), there is no reason to take White in those formats. While he definitely has a chance to be a contributor early, I think it is reasonable to predict more of a second year breakout, especially with the return of Jahan Dotson. Devy Verdict: Do not draft in anything but the deepest devy leagues
Campus to Canton leagues are a different story. White’s value is difficult to determine because of the big gap between the composite score and his place in 247’s own rankings. In my opinion, 247 is considered the best of the big 3 recruiting services, so some people just use their rankings. Others rely on that composite score. So White may go anywhere from WR8-WR40 in drafts, depending on leaguemate preferences. C2C Verdict: Anywhere from the 3rd round in freshmen drafts would be appropriate, and if you really want him I would not wait past round 4.
White may end up as the latest in a long string of “Athlete” designations that become top receivers in college. He has a great size/athleticism combo and strong hands, both of which should translate well to the next level. He also has plenty of opportunity to get on the field early in a weak Penn State receiver room. Look for White to burst onto the scene sooner than many may think