Lewis Takes on Role of Leader

"Veteran" of the wide receiver corps is helping Penn State's newcomers adjust to the college game.

Penn State's Geno Lewis knows how important leadership is for young receivers entering a major-college football program. So much so, in fact, that in recalling his first summer on campus, he pointed to an upperclassman who was around for only a month as one of the people who influenced him the most.

That was the summer of 2012, and Lewis and his class arrived in late June. The Nittany Lions were hit with NCAA sanctions in late July, one of which was the ability of players to transfer without penalty. Justin Brown, the team's leading returning receiver, did just that, bolting for Oklahoma.

Brown's departure cleared the way for then-sophomore Allen Robinson to emerge as one of the best pass-catchers in school history. Lewis, now a redshirt sophomore, learned a lot from both players that summer.

“Definitely Allen Robinson,” Lewis said when asked about his role models. “Even before Allen, it was Justin Brown. When I got here they both put me under their wing and always just wanted the best for me and for me to be successful.”

Two years later, Brown is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Robinson -- having departed PSU a year early -- was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in May.

And Lewis? Among Penn State's returning wideouts, he is by far the leader in career receptions with 18 for 234 yards and three scores -- all of them as a redshirt freshman last season. Veteran Matt Zanelatto is second on the list with six catches. Nobody is third, meaning the Lions will need help from their freshman class.

So Lewis is taking it upon himself to serve as a role model for the three wideouts who recently arrived on campus -- Troy Apke, Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin.

“I want to do the same thing for those guys who just came in,” he said, recalling how Robinson and Brown helped him.

“It's a big thing, because we're going to need those guys during the season.”

“It's a big thing, because we're going to need those guys during the season,” he added. “Knowledge is power -- I was always told that. So that's what we have to do, we have to get them rolling and on the same page as all of us.”

Asked for an early scouting report on the fresh faces, Lewis explained it was too soon to go into too much detail on any of them.

“They're doing well,” he said. “They've only been here a week, and we haven't seen too much of them yet. But this summer and during camp, we'll be able to tell how far they've come, because from high school to college is a big adjustment.

“They still have to get comfortable and learn the playbook and all those type of things,” he added. “So we'll see in a couple of weeks.”

Lewis has seen plenty of redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton and early-enrollee true freshman DeAndre Thompkins, both of whom played in the spring. He envisions both contributing in 2014.

“They're actually doing really well, DeAndre and DaeSean,” he said. “They had a great spring, both of them. I think they're going to have a great year this year. They've stepped up and they'll definitely play a big role on the team.”

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