The logo for Jahan Dotson’s hometown football clinic featured the iconic image of his one-handed catch against Ohio State in 2020. He’s considering branding something like this, perhaps as his personal logo.
But then Dotson turns his attention to the future.
“Maybe, but I don’t know, I’ve seen it too many times,” he said. “It’s getting kind of old for me. It’s time for a new one. It’s like that’s the only catch I’ve ever made, so it’s time to make more.”
Dotson is more than equipped to do so with the Washington Commanders, who welcomed the rookie receiver from Penn State with high expectations this season. Quarterback Carson Wentz said Dotson “catches football as naturally as anyone I’ve ever been with,” and offensive coordinator Scott Turner expects to use Dotson in a variety of ways.
But before he dived into training camp, Dotson returned home last weekend to host a youth soccer player camp in Pennsylvania. The Nazareth High School graduate entertained more than 250 students at the camp, which was sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Health Network, where he couldn’t help but snap a few one-handed catches from the kids.
Dotson also demonstrated an arm that the commanders could sneak into some trick plays.
Dotson’s life has changed significantly since the Commanders picked him 16th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. He graduated from Penn State University, moved to a new house near Washington, DC, and began developing a relationship with new quarterback Carson Wentz.
What hasn’t changed is Dotson’s passion for the game and his belief in his abilities. As a result, Dotson said he wasn’t concerned about the first day of rookie minicamp.
“It was kind of weird,” he said. “I called my best friend and said, ‘I’m not really nervous, even though it’s my first day in the NFL.’ I’ve been playing football for so long it felt like I was back at Clipper Field [in Nazareth] again.”
During that minicamp, Dotson received a welcome nudge from head coach Ron Rivera to attend his Penn State graduation. The event was scheduled for the last day of minicamp, and Dotson had already planned to skip the graduation ceremony. But Rivera urged Dotson to leave, a moment that strengthened the first-year bond between coach and player.
Rivera’s suggestion also reminded Dotson of James Franklin, his coach at Penn State.
“Anytime anyone asks what Coach Rivera is like, I say he’s a real player-coach,” Dotson said. “He has her best interests in mind. He loves us pretty much unconditionally. He treats us like we’re literally his kids, so finding someone like that is pretty cool.
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“There are many similarities [between Rivera and Franklin]. Coach Franklin is the same. If there was an opportunity to change our lives, Coach Franklin would be all for it. I’m very lucky to play for two guys like that.”
Another relationship he’s forging is with Wentz, the Commanders’ freshman quarterback entering his seventh NFL season. Dotson developed a strong bond with Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford as the two became the best touchdown duo in Penn State history.
He tries to develop a similar relationship with Wentz.
“Like I did with Sean, I was trying to catch every single pass that he was throwing at me,” Dotson said of his bonding strategy with Wentz. “That helps. And then I just get to know him a little bit. He’s obviously a lot older than me, so knowing what he has in store for the game will help me tremendously in my career. Hopefully I can catch a lot of passes by him.”
A few things surprised Dotson about life in the NFL. The amount of free time he has, for example. Like most collegiate athletes, Dotson was used to having his schedule programmed most of the year at Penn State. During his first NFL preseason, Dotson’s days were far less structured.
So he traveled a bit through rookie minicamps and OTAs and spent time with his parents in Nazareth. But he still carries a soccer ball almost everywhere and looks forward to minicamp.
“I’ve been trying to get away from football a little bit, but it’s kind of difficult when you’re following something,” he said. “I’ve followed the NFL my entire life and I want to make the most of it.”
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AllPennState is Penn State’s place for news, opinions and perspectives on the SI.com network. Editor Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @ Mark Wogenrich. And subscribe to more great content on the SI.com network (buttons on the home page).