CARSON, Calif. - The numbers for DaeSean Hamilton decreased for Penn State this season, but that hasn't stopped the fourth-year junior wide receiver from coming up with clutch performances.
After catching 82 passes as a redshirt freshman and 45 as a sophomore, Hamilton is down to 34 receptions this season going into Monday's Rose Bowl against Southern California. But he is coming off one of the best games of his career, eight catches - five of them going for first downs - for 118 yards in the Big Ten championship game win over Wisconsin.
"Obviously, that being for the Big Ten championship and being able to make plays on that stage will boost anybody's confidence," Hamilton said Thursday after the Nittany Lions' practice. "But being able to do that and make plays for my team, that felt really good, and the fact that we were able to come out and get a W at the end of it, it was really special."
Hamilton also snared eight receptions at Pittsburgh in the season's second game, but he beat himself up over a critical drop in the fourth quarter of a 42-39 Penn State loss. After that, with the help of supportive teammates and coaches, he remained positive and involved.
"Situations like that basically come down to the individual," he said. "If you're strong-minded, you're going to be able to bounce back from something like that. I believe that's what I was able to do. As long as you have a great support staff, your family and friends and coaches and things like that, then you'll be able to get through anything."
Saquon Barkley is a fan of watching videos of great running backs, which is why he looked up clips of former USC great Reggie Bush after the Nittany Lions and the Trojans were paired in the Rose Bowl. He said he couldn't stop watching them.
"Obviously, one of the greatest college football players ever and one of the greatest running backs ever to play in college," said the Lions sophomore, who rushed for 1,302 yards this season. "Just exciting to watch him play."
Asked what he took away from the videos, Barkley said he wanted to be a complete back like Bush.
"I felt like he was able to do it all - run the ball, pass the ball, catch the ball out of the backfield," he said. "He was just a threat all-around to other teams. As a running back, you want to be an all-around back, and that's the goal you try to shoot for."
Starting middle linebacker Jason Cabinda, the heart of the Penn State defense, said he plans to come back for his senior season.
Cabinda made the announcement in a tweet, then spoke about it after his team practiced on Wednesday.
"I just felt like it's the right thing for me to do and I thought it was in the best interests for me," he said. "Obviously make sure I have my degree, and I get to play for Penn State for a whole another year. Not a lot more to say than that. I love playing here and I love this place to death. I'm really excited to be able to come back."