Scouting The Huskies: Tight Ends and Receivers

By: Thomas Frank Carr
Beat Writer

The Nittany Lions take on the University of Washington in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday December 30th. Most Penn State fans have not seen Washington this year so reporter Thomas Frank Carr has studied the film to find out more about the 10-2 Huskies.

Today we are taking a look at the pass catchers.

Overall Position Grade WR: B-

The huskies have been ravaged by injuries this season and no position has been hit harder than their pass catchers. Freshman tight end Hunter Bryant may be back for the bowl game, but has missed a significant stretch of the season after being injured in the UCLA game on the 28th of October. They also lost their likely 2nd receiver Chico McClatcher before the season with an injury. Since then, they’ve been playing with a short deck at the receiving corps, which has hurt their ability to move the ball through the air. While that has been a factor, it’s not as if the Huskies were going to be dynamic through the air this year. Receivers and tight ends will be ranked in order of effectiveness and talent.

WR Dante Pettis
6’1”, 195lbs
Stats to Know: 62 rec, 721 yards receiving, 7 TDs  

Breakdown:

Pettis has been a man alone this year in the Huskies’ passing game. He has roughly 400 more yards than the next closest pass-catcher for Washington. That player, Hunter Bryant, hasn’t played since the end of October. That doesn’t mean that Pettis is an exceptional player either. He’s an athlete that players receiver, not an athletic receiver. The junior is a long strider who can eat up ground quickly and is a silky-smooth athlete who moves well in space. His ability to make people miss and vision through traffic is legendary, but mostly as a kick returner (more on that in a later article). As a receiver, Pettis leaves a lot to be desired. He doesn’t attack the top of routes the way you would like for someone who is as talented as he. His routes are imprecise and he doesn’t create separation until after the play breaks down and he can improvise. This leads to a lot of plays being made while QB Jake Browning is on the move, outside of the pocket. Pettis is a quality starter, but the Nittany Lions have faced better talent this year in the Big 10.  

Completely Arbitrary Individual Positional Skills:

  • Speed: A
  • Strength C-
  • Agility A+
  • Acceleration A+
  • Hands A-
  • Route Running C
  • Beat Press C+

TE Hunter Bryant

6”2”, 240 lbs

Stats to Know: 22 rec, 331 yards, 1 TD

Breakdown:

As we said earlier, Bryant may or may not play in the Fiesta Bowl after exiting a game vs UCLA on the 28th of October with a leg injury. Bryant is a redshirt freshman who flashes ability in the likes of some of the greats that have played at Washington. Bryant is not a big tight end by any means, but is an adequate blocker and a threat in the passing game.  While he’s not the redzone target of a guy like Jesse James or Mike Gesicki, he’s more explosive as a runner and can do more damage after the catch. Mostly, he’s a  second set of hands in the middle of the field and someone who creates separation from linebackers and safeties, which is something the Huskies have lacked. Bryant is still 2nd on the team in yards and only one non-running back has more touchdowns than he does. Even if he were to play, the freshman is no sure thing to be a huge difference-maker. He’s an exciting freshman with upside but hasn’t played in over two months. He’s just better than what they’ve had to replace him so far.

Completely Arbitrary Individual Positional Skills:

  • Speed: B+
  • Strength C+
  • Agility B+
  • Acceleration B+
  • Hands B+
  • Route Running B-
  • Run/Pass Blocking C+

 

TE Will Disley

6’4”, 267
Stats To Know: 19 rec, 230 yards, 2 TDs

Breakdown:

It’s a bit unfair to say that Will Disley is a disappointment as a receiver. He was probably never meant to be a huge contributor in the passing attack, but was pressed into service as the pass catching tight end after Bryant went down with an injury. The junior is actually a quality run blocker who does a great job opening holes for Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman. He’s big, physical and uses his hands well in run blocking. He’s able to block linebackers as well as defensive ends with effectiveness and has enough speed to surprise teams in the passing game. The key word though is some speed. Disley is a decent athlete but is by no means fast or explosive. The best way to cover him is to simply not forget about him.

 

Completely Arbitrary Individual Positional Skills:

  • Speed: C+
  • Strength B
  • Agility C+
  • Acceleration C
  • Hands B+
  • Route Running B-
  • Run/Pass Blocking A-

WR Aaron Fuller
5’10” 187 lbs
Stats to Know: 20 rec, 230 yards, 0 TDs

Breakdown:

Fuller was likely only supposed to be a bit player or a fourth or fifth option this year at wide reciever. Injuries have forced the sophomore up the depth chart and into a prominent role but it has not gone very well for the Texas native. That’s not to say that there is nothing to like about Fuller. He’s a good athlete who might be one of the better route runners on the team. He has good quickness and can create separation with his route running when he focuses on them. The issue with Fuller is consistency. He clearly does not have the trust of his quarterback. Jake Browning tends to look for Pettis when the play breaks down.

Completely Arbitrary Individual Positional Skills:

  • Speed: B+
  • Strength D
  • Agility A-
  • Acceleration B+
  • Hands B-
  • Route Running B+
  • Beat Press C