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Plans for receivers remain on track


February 17. 2013 1:25AM
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There was no celebration for his third touchdown of the game. Allen Robinson simply tossed the ball to the official and trotted off to the sideline.


So his teammates did the cheering for him. And one of the first people to greet him when he came off the field was fellow wide receiver Eugene Lewis.


The two players are listed 1-2 on the depth chart for Penn State at split end. But while Robinson finds himself among the national receiving leaders, Lewis finds himself likely headed for a redshirt season.


Two players at opposite extremes. But both equally important to the Nittany Lions in this time of turmoil. Because both will undoubtedly be the targets of other schools this offseason as the NCAA sanctions allow Penn State players to transfer without penalty until preseason camp begins next August.


For their part, both Robinson and Lewis have remained firmly committed to Penn State throughout the year.


"Definitely. This was the place I wanted to be even when the sanctions hit," said Robinson, who ranks seventh or better in the country in catches (24), yards (322) and touchdowns (4). "Just going through so much with these guys, building so much chemistry with the guys on the team, it's almost like a brotherhood.


"A couple of people left. But at the end of the day, I want to lead my brothers."


Per Penn State policy, true freshmen like Lewis are not typically made available for interviews. After Saturday's win, assistant head coach Stan Hixon went into detail about Lewis' future with the team.


Hixon, who works directly with the wide receivers, praised Lewis' natural ability. It's the little details as a receiver that the coaches want him to refine after playing quarterback in his last two seasons at Wyoming Valley West.


"Yeah, we'd like to (redshirt him)," Hixon said. "Because he's going to be really, really good. … He's just learning how to run routes. You can see he's got the potential to be a really good player. He's probably the best athlete we have at that position.


"Allen, he can run and jump high. But Geno, he's pretty special. He's just got to get his basic fundamentals (down) -- his route-running, reading coverages, that type of thing."


Of course, patience is not always the easiest thing to get across to an 18-year-old accustomed to being the best player on the field in high school.


"Yes, but I tell them that come January, they're going to be glad they did (redshirt)," Hixon said. "What's hard right now is getting them to see the big picture -- that they'll be a much better player in their fourth, fifth year than, obviously, as a freshman playing only limited snaps.


"And honestly, at times, it's been hard to take Allen out of the game because he's been so productive."


Though the team's preference is to redshirt Lewis, it's not something set in stone. Lewis suits up for each game and on Saturday went through warm-ups with the wide receivers and the kick returners. The Lions can choose to put him in a game at any time if needed. If he were to play for any amount of time, he could not be redshirted, thus using up a year of his eligibility.


Lewis is one of three true freshman receivers on track for a redshirt, joining Malik Golden and Jonathan Warner. Classmate Trevor Williams has seen the field and made his first career catch on Saturday.


The midweek departure of starting wideout Shawney Kersey did not affect those plans. Junior Brandon Moseby-Felder took Kersey's spot in the lineup with Williams, Matt Zanellato and Christian Kuntz also seeing more snaps.


"We don't want to play them if they're only going to play five plays, four plays, three plays (a game)," Hixon said of the rookies. "That's really tough."


That's essentially what happened with Robinson last season. Though he did see the field as a true freshman, he played only a handful of snaps each week and finished the year with three catches.


Robinson won't be able to play in a bowl game while at Penn State but said he has other priorities -- namely developing into an NFL receiver under Hixon and head coach Bill O'Brien.


"It's not really about playing in the Big Ten championship. Or playing in a bowl game," Robinson said. "I mean, a lot of the guys who transfer, they might not even make it to a bowl game. I think it's just about playing for a great staff and a great university."




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