James Franklin looking forward to Parker Washington in 2022

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Penn State’s 2021 season ended with a whimper with a loss in the Outback Bowl, but there are some positives to look forward to in 2022. Among the highlights of the Outback Bowl loss was a one-handed catch by Parker Washington, Penn State’s top returning receiver following the departure of Jahan Dotson to the NFL. Washington is a player Penn State head coach James Franklin is very much looking forward to watch continue to grow next season.

“Yeah, Parker, I think you guys see, there’s a lot to be excited about in his future,” Franklin said in his postgame comments following a 24-10 loss to Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. “Got tremendous ball skills. He’s smart. He can make people miss. He’s built more like a tailback than he is a running back which I think helps him in a lot of different situations.”

Washignton was Penn State’s second-leading receiver in 2020 as a freshman and in 2021 as a sophomore, with Dotson being the leading receiver each season. Washington accounted for 64 receptions for 820 yards and four touchdowns for the Nittany Lions in 2021, and he had more than just the one highlight catch against the Razorbacks in the bowl game. We have done our best to capture some of those key moments throughout the 2021 season because they are worth remembering.

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And if Franklin’s postgame comments are any suggestion, it may not be a surprise to see Washington get some time returning punts for Penn State in 2022, just as Dotson did at times during his time in Happy Valley.

“Even some of the punts he fielded, got some positive yards, even the over-the-shoulder punt, that thing got to the ground,” Franklin noted (Washington only had one five-yard punt return against Arkansas).” Those are 20 yards that are hidden yardage that people don’t think about in the game that saved us.”

Replacing Dotson is no easy feat. Dotson could be a first-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL draft later this spring, and he certainly left his mark in the Penn State record books. But that helps motivate Washington to improve his game as much as possible to help the offense next fall.

“We’re just going to step up where we need to step up,” Washington said in his postgame comments after the Outback Bowl. “Especially with the other guys, we know they’ll be ready in the [wide receiver] room, as well. We just have to come in, focus every day and build on it each day.”

Penn State’s passing game may already know how it will look in 2022. Sean Clifford has announced he will return for another season, and he will likely be the starter for the Nittany Lions once again. Washington will be joined by KeAndre Lambert-Smith as the top two receiving options, and we’ll see who else gets into the mix. The tight-end situation will be covered by Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson.

“Coming in next year and to see Parker and KeAndre do some good things today, that’s going to be important because we’re losing a lot of production in Jahan Dotson,” Franklin said.

He’s not wrong.

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2021 Penn State Nittany Lions transfer portal tracker

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