Buffalo, Jahan Dotson (5)

Wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) lifts up wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) after Dotson scored the first touchdown of the game against Buffalo at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Penn State defeated Buffalo 45-13.

During his freshman season, Jahan Dotson had to make sacrifices.

The former four-star recruit didn't put up four-star numbers right away. He didn't play in a few games and wasn't a top target when he did see the field.

Dotson totaled 203 receiving yards on just 13 catches in eight games played — he’s on track to blow those numbers out of the water just a year later.

But that doesn’t compare to the sacrifices his family made in order for the receiver to get to where he is today — starting at receiver for Penn State.

“It was a big sigh of relief,” Dotson said about catching his first career touchdown last week against Buffalo. “I’ve been waiting all year, last year I played a little bit and I couldn’t get it but I got it this year in the second game, so that was pretty cool.

“I just thought about my parents,” Dotson added. “As much as they’ve put in to that, I just wanted to [the touchdown] for them.”

The Nazareth, Pennsylvania, native had a career day against the Bulls, scoring his first two touchdowns as a Nittany Lion and racking up 109 total yards as the game’s leading receiver.

Buffalo, Clifford (14) and Dotson (5)

Sean Clifford (14) and Jahan Dotson (5) celebrate a touchdown during the game against Buffalo on Saturday, Sep. 7, 2019 at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Buffalo 45-13.

Dotson’s parents have been a constant motivator in his time playing football.

“My biggest motivator has to be my parents just because they’ve sacrificed everything for me while growing up,” Dotson said. “They’ve been driving me all over the country for football camps, just taking me everywhere I could possibly go to better myself, better my future, so I feel like I owe it all to them.”

Dotson’s motivation and work ethic are paying off as it’s quickly becoming apparent that he is poised to make a leap from year one to year two.

He's come into his own as the perfect complement to star receiver and fellow sophomore KJ Hamler.

“It’s pretty cool to be out there with a guy like KJ just because he’s such a playmaker,” Dotson said. “You never know what he’s gonna do when he gets the ball in his hands, he could break 90 yards on one play… he opens everything up for other guys.”

Buffalo, Dotson (5) and Hamler (1)

Wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) and wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) celebrate Dotson's touchdown during the game against Buffalo at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. The No. 15 Nittany Lions defeated the Bulls, 45-13.

When Dotson was recruited out of high school, he wasn’t the top receiver in Penn State’s 2018 class, that would be Justin Shorter — the No. 1 wide receiver recruit in the country.

But Dotson has shown more promise than Shorter in their first two seasons in Happy Valley.

Shorter redshirted as a freshman while Dotson proved he was reliable enough to forgo his redshirt eligibility and play in more than the four allotted games.

Now, this season, Dotson has been targeted more often than Shorter and has over 70 more yards in two games.

Despite not playing much last year, he's finally come into his own and his teammates are starting to take notice.

“His routes are so crisp and so clean,” sophomore tight end Pat Freiermuth said. “The way he handles his business every single day, comes in and gets better, it's credit to him and credit to his work ethic.”

Even though he was a four-star recruit, he doesn't take anything for granted and even makes the little things look impressive.

“People don’t know but Jahan’s a freak,” freshman defensive end Jayson Oweh said. “He’s fluid and natural, he just does little stuff that would take a lot of people a lot of energy to exert, but he just does it so smoothly and nonchalant.”

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