Look for Tinsley to catch on fast
UNIVERSITY PARK — Jahan Dotson, Penn State’s best receiver last year and in several years is gone, but the Nittany Lions hope his successor won’t take long to acclimate.
He, too, wears No. 5.
Mitchell Tinsley caught 87 passes for 1,402 yards (16.1 per catch) and 14 touchdowns last season at Western Kentucky.
Penn State snagged him out of the transfer portal, and he quickly decided to room with quarterback Sean Clifford.
“Smart move,” James Franklin said Saturday at Penn State football media day.
The two became acquainted during the winter as Clifford was involved in the recruitment.
“I was vetting a whole bunch of different schools, and he (Clifford) did a great job of reaching out every few days … to see where my head was at,” Tinsley said.
After committing, Tinsley attended the Blue-White game and met Dotson, who was a week away from being selected with the Washington Commanders’ top pick.
“He’s definitely a cool guy,” Tinsley said. “I got to chat with him a few times. He told me to have fun and enjoy the journey.”
Tinsley picked No. 5 not to be compared with Dotson but because it’s been his favorite number since watching Reggie Bush at USC.
“I want to be my own person,” he said. “(Dotson) was an extraordinary player here. He did a lot of good things and definitely set the bar high, but I want to do the best Mitchell Tinsley I can be.”
A native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, the 6-foot-1, 206-pound Tinsley didn’t play football until his senior year of high school, concentrating on basketball and track and field (long jump).
He said he drew some interest from Power-5 football programs but “none of them pulled the trigger.”
He enrolled instead at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College before transferring to Western Kentucky, where he was the main target for prolific quarterback Bailey Zappe, the New England Patriots’ fourth-round pick
Zappe threw for nearly 5,977 yards and 62 touchdowns last season, both FBS records.
Penn State will not be slinging it around Beaver Stadium like that, but Tinsley is confident he’ll adjust to his role.
“This will be my fifth offense that I’ve been in college,” he said. “Every offense and every coach is different, but at the end of the day, you just have to make plays and the most of your opportunities. I just want to do my job and do it to the best my ability. And I know this is football, it’s not anything different than what I played before.”
Despite losing Dotson, Franklin has said he believes this year’s receiving corps, which also includes Parker Washington, KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Malick Meiga, can equal the 2021 group.
He said so with Tinsley in mind.
“I think he’s got a chance to have a really, really productive year,” Franklin said. “He’s dependable. He’s got really good ball skills and toughness and maturity. So I think he’s one of those guys that you’re going to know what you’re getting pretty much week in, week out from him.”
Penn State is also getting an appreciative player. Western Kentucky’s home stadium seats 23,776. Tinsley played a number of games in front of fewer than 20,000 fans.
“With me playing in the spring (Blue-White) game, it gave me an idea of what to look for,” he said. “There were 60,000 people here, and it didn’t even look like it was half full. At the end of the day, I’m really excited for this atmosphere. I’ve seen videos of the whiteout. Everybody’s journey is different, but I’m blessed to be here now.”