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Penn State WR coach explains what makes Dotson different

Taylor Stubblefield admits there's an unassuming aura around Jahan Dotson. 

"He doesn't have this flamboyant demeanor or persona about him," Stubblefield explained in an interview with Julie Donaldson. "He has his little ball. He might have some fancy backpack, probably going to wear some old dusty Birkenstocks." 

As Dotson's wide receiver coach for two seasons at Penn State, Stubblefield became familiar with the young star's eccentric look. Stubblefield watched Dotson trade out those dusty sandals for spikes, take the field and shine hundreds of times.  

In the latest episode of "Command Center," the PSU coach offered a behind-the-scenes perspective on the promise he saw in Dotson during their time together and what he's excited to see the wide out do at the next level with the Commanders.

There's a universe in which Dotson and Stubblefield's time together is cut in half. The Nazareth, Pennsylvania, native had made the most of 2020, recording 52 catches for 884 yards and eight touchdowns. It was the kind of season that saw him burst onto the national scene and become a name to know for NFL scouts. 

The choice to go pro after that season was there, but Dotson opted to return to Penn State for his senior year. It's a decision, Stubblefield explained, that is never taken lightly in head coach James Franklin's program. 

"We do a really good job here at Penn State of giving guys the best info they have," Stubblefield said. "We outsource it…we get information from the teams around the NFL to see what his draft status would be. After his junior year, we had a meeting with him and decided that it would be best for him to come back to help his draft status, and he did that. 

"He did it not only for himself but also for the team, because as Coach Franklin always says, 'If someone can get drafted as high as possible, that's better for them and it's better for Penn State,'" Stubblefield added. "So, he trusted the process, he came back and had a heck of a year."

Take a look at wide receiver and No. 16 overall pick Jahan Dotson's first trip to the Washington Commanders' facility in Ashburn, Virginia. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)

A heck of a year it was indeed. Dotson led his team with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, capping off his college career tied for second all-time at Penn State in total receptions and receiving yards. He also set program records for single-game receiving yards (242 vs. Maryland) and punt return average (17.8).

Coming back paid off; his draft stock rose, and in April, Dotson heard his name called with the 16th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The 22-year-old now finds himself in a talented Washington wide receiver room, and Stubblefield knows that Dotson will further improve that cohort and the offense.

"[Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz] has talked about how the best players can't have bad days, and Jahan is going to make sure he doesn't have bad days," Stubblefield said. "He's gonna go in there, and he's going to try to be as consistent as possible. He knows that offense is about being where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there.

"And then once you get that ball in your hand, your creativity, your explosiveness, that's where that comes into play, your playmaking ability. He obviously has that."

Dotson has already shown flashes of those strengths throughout the Commanders' OTAs and minicamp in June. Stubblefield sees a quality more essential to being successful underneath those talents, though: a never-quit approach towards working hard. It doesn't matter if he's in a practice or a game, in front of a handful or in front of thousands, Dotson demands his all when he steps on a football field.

"He never came up to me and was like, 'Hey coach, I need one today,' or, 'Can I relax today?'" Stubblefield recalled. "I didn't have to motivate him to work hard. He chose to work hard, and I think that can become infectious, especially as he grows in his career in the NFL."

That work ethic, combination with the team around him in Washington, has Stubblefield confident that Dotson will be prepared for his moment.

"He's gonna be ready," Stubblefield said.

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