Lions get fast with IMG Academy star

By Philip Cmor

pcmor@altoonamirror.com

Penn State might be fading with five-star defensive end Josh Kaindoh from IMG Academy, but the Nittany Lions did pull a receiver/return man with speed to burn from the Florida prep power on Friday afternoon.

Five-foot-nine, 165-pound K.J. Hamler, one of the fastest players in the class of 2017, became the 16th member of Penn State’s recruiting class this season when he announced his college choice on Twitter.

Hamler sat out this season at IMG because of a knee injury sustained in preseason drills. He’s originally from Michigan, and, as a junior, he caught 31 passes for 623 yards at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, the alma mater of former Nittany Lion great and current Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson.

St. Mary’s won the Class 3A state title in 2015.

Michigan State, Oregon and Iowa State were Hamler’s other finalists.

Hamler isn’t big, but he is both quick and fast. He’s timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds.

“Main concern with him is size, but he has every tool needed to make up for it,” Scout.com’s Allen Trieu wrote in an evaluation. “Very quick, explosive kid who creates a lot of separation. Tough to keep up with one on one because of his ability to cut on a dime while moving at full speed. Elusive in the open field. Maybe not elite top end speed, but good top end speed. Catches the ball very well and goes up and snatches passes out of the air. Does a great job with body control and ability to keep his feet in bounds along the sidelines.”

A lot of teams weren’t scared off by Hamler’s lack of size, either. He also had scholarship offers from Michigan, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisville, West Virginia, Arizona and Arizona State, among others.

Hamler is the third wide receiver recruit in this Penn State class, joining Indiana’s Mac Hippenhammer and Maryland’s Cameron Sullivan-Brown. However, Hippenhammer and Cameron-Brown figure to be outside receivers, while Hamler can play the slot.

He also is expected to be a big threat in the return game.

Hamler will enroll in January.

Penn State figures to try to bring in 20 recruits in this class, although there are not that many scholarship openings at the moment. The Lions are set to host U.S. Army All-American cornerback Donovan Johnson from Michigan this weekend; Johnson is also considered among the fastest players in this class. Meanwhile, Clairton corner Lamont Wade is set to make a college choice on Dec. 17.

The Lions seemed to have the inside track for Kaindoh a couple of weeks ago after the five-star defensive lineman originally from Maryland made an official visit to Penn State. Recently, though, Florida State reportedly has taken the lead.

The Lions have about a week to try to get Kaindoh to change his mind. A recruiting dead period begins next Sunday, and Kaindoh is going to announce his college choice at the U.S. Army All-American Game on Jan. 1.

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