Penn State WR signee a catch on the baseball diamond too, more on the receivers, plus a stunner over Maryland
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Mac the … dual threat
A handful of Penn State wide receivers hope to make an impact this fall, but one also hopes to be a difference-maker the following spring — on the baseball diamond.
New recruit Mac Hippenhammer of Fort Wayne, Ind., will attempt to crack the Nittany Lions’ lineup at shortstop.
Hippenhammer, a 3-star wideout, made it known throughout his football recruitment that he also intended to play baseball in college, after hitting .438 with 25 stolen bases his junior year at R. Nelson Snider High School. When he visited PSU’s campus he not only met with James Franklin but also baseball coach Rob Cooper, who told John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times:
“We didn’t just meet with him to help football out. We met with him because he can help baseball out. He can be an impact player for us down the road.”
Hippenhammer caught 46 passes this past fall, and stuck to his verbal commitment to the Lions despite a late run by Notre Dame.
When he arrives in June, football will be his primary focus. But Franklin said on signing day he will give the newcomer an opportunity to multitask:
“That’s something selfishly as a football coach, I want him to play football. But if a young man like that has an interest and has the talent … and I love coach Coop. That’s my guy, so we’re going to work together. We’re going to support him every step of the way. We’ll see what happens.”
We no doubt will, as Hippenhammer joins some fast company, in every sense.
The Lions’ best wide receiver this past season, Chris Godwin, has decided to cast his lot with the NFL, but veterans DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall would appear to be locks for playing time in 2017, and DeAndre Thompkins saw plenty of action this past season, too. Brandon Polk was limited to three games because of injury, but certainly he has familiarity with quarterback Trace McSorley, as they were high school teammates.
Then there is Juwan Johnson.
Johnson was tabbed on Tuesday by Foxsports.com’s Barry Leonard Jr. as a potential breakout player next fall after playing primarily on special teams as a redshirt freshman this past season.
Another redshirt freshman, Irv Charles, is almost identical in size to the 6-foot-4, 218-pound Johnson, who was dubbed “Megatron Jr.” in high school. Both had exactly two catches in 2016, though Charles’ 80-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter of the come-from-behind victory over Minnesota on Oct. 1 is widely regarded as the play that turned the season around.
Johnson’s biggest play of the year, meanwhile, was a blocked punt in the third quarter of the Nov. 19 shutout of Rutgers.
Also in the wideout picture is Dae’Lun Darien, who redshirted this past season, and Hippenhammer’s 2017 classmates, K.J. Hamler and Cameron Sullivan-Brown.
Hamler, a 4-star recruit and one of the Lions’ four early enrollees, is regarded as the most likely newcomer to see immediate action, whether on offense or as a return man.
Lions upset Terrapins
Freshman forward Lamar Stevens scored 25 points as the Penn State men’s basketball team upended No. 21 Maryland 70-64 on Tuesday night.
The Lions (13-12), who three days earlier had suffered a home loss to lowly Rutgers, also saw freshman point guard Tony Carr collect 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 33 turnover-free minutes.
PSU was far from flawless, as Mark Brennan of Fight on State noted, missing 16 of 18 3-point attempts and seeing two of its top scorers, Shep Garner and Peyton Banks, combine for three points. But unlike in the loss to Scarlet Knights, the Lions gave an honest effort for 40 minutes.
As coach Pat Chambers told Brennan:
“That’s all I want to do right now, compete for 40 minutes. I want to teach these young guys how to compete.”
Here are highlights, via the Big Ten Network’s Twitter account:
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 8, 2017