STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler usually greets reporters with a smile and answers that show his cheerful side.
But the electrifying redshirt sophomore who showed up at Beaver Stadium for Friday’s interview session, the day before his team’s departure for the Cotton Bowl, was pensive, a little bit lost in thought, especially when asked if he will give up his last two years of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.
“I know what I’m doing,” Hamler said in response to one of multiple questions about his future after next Saturday’s bowl game in suburban Dallas against Memphis.
However, that conflicted with an answer he had given earlier when he said he was “just waiting on God to give me a sign.”
“I think it’s a win-win for me to stay or leave,” he said. “You always have to write the pros and cons down. I always go to quiet places and ask God what to do."
He said he will announce his decision “right after the bowl game” and that he doesn’t want to be a distraction as his team prepares for the contest.
“I just feel like it’s my business, my team’s business and the coaches’ business,” he said. “I don’t have to tell nobody what I’m doing yet. I’m not really focused on that right now. I’m focused on going down to Dallas and playing Memphis, balling out for the team.”
A few NFL mock drafts have the 5-foot-9, 176-pound Hamler, who also returns kickoffs and punts, as a second-round pick. CBSSports.com lists Hamler as the No. 58 draft pick, going to the Green Bay Packers. The Draft Network ranks him as No. 44.
Hamler leads the Nittany Lions with 54 receptions for 858 yards and eight touchdowns. He also returned 23 kickoffs for a 21.3-yard average, and his 125.2 all-purpose yards per game is 26th in FBS.
The Nittany Lions already have one player, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, leaving for the NFL Draft with one year of eligibility left, but not before he plays in the bowl game. Three other draft-eligible players, tight end Pat Freiermuth, offensive tackle Will Fries and center Michal Menet, have said they will be returning.
Penn State head coach James Franklin said he met with players and their parents immediately after the season to discuss their draft status based on conversations with NFL general managers and scouts. He said teams can request up to five player evaluations from NFL teams.
“I just want to make sure them and their families make an educated decision, that they have all the information,” he said. “Once they do, we’re going to love them and support the heck out of them to help them reach their dreams. We’ll have some more guys announce after the game because that’s when they want to do it.”
So Hamler, whether he’s made a decision or not, still has a week to mull it over.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult or this stressful,” he said. “It’s more like recruiting when you’re trying to pick a school. If you choose the wrong school, you can mess up your future. This can mess up your future as well. It’s a hard decision.
“I keep writing pros and cons down. My mom and dad are a big help to me. They say it’s my decision.”