STATE COLLEGE — As far as football stories go, Deon Butler’s was an all-timer at Penn State.
A walk-on from Virginia who worked at defensive back while redshirting his first year on campus. Then he became a wideout who outproduced a pair of five-star recruits in 2005 to lead the team in receiving.
And then he did it again in 2006. And 2007. And, yes, in 2008 as well. All to become the school’s career receptions leader.
DaeSean Hamilton knows it well. A fellow Virginia wideout, he heard the story all the time from his coach at Mountain View High School, Lou Sorrentino, who had previously coached Butler at C.D. Hylton High School.
“Deon’s a great player,” Hamilton said Saturday after breaking Butler’s record on a career-best afternoon. “I’ve looked up to him since back when I was in high school because we had the same coach. … He rattled off about Deon all the time when I was playing for him. He would talk about the things he would see that were similar in myself and him. Just how he worked and his whole story.
“It was really like foreshadowing. And it’s really cool at the same time.”
The two are now next to each other in the Penn State record books. Hamilton hauled in nine passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Indiana to give him 181 grabs — two more than Butler — in his four seasons for the Nittany Lions.
Though his own backstory isn’t quite as dramatic as Butler’s, Hamilton still had to overcome wrist surgery upon arriving at Penn State in 2013, which set back his development a full year. And he also saw his role in the offense dramatically decrease last season as the Lions relied on others to fuel the offense.
“I’m really proud,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “I made a really big deal about it in the locker room with the guys. I think he is a great example for our younger players, I think he is a great example in general.
“…Whenever you can say that you’re the all-time leader at Penn State, that’s pretty special. I’m not even the all time leader at East Stroudsburg in anything anymore, and this guy is the all-time leader at Penn State, which is really impressive.”
Hamilton leaped over a defender to grab an 8-yard fade pass for the score in the first quarter.
He fought off another at the goal line for a 24-yard score that tied the record in the third.
And for good measure, he scored from 16 yards out on a pass from Saquon Barkley in the fourth.
“It really means a lot,” Hamilton said. “It hasn’t hit me yet, but it’s gonna hit me later on.”
On an otherwise exemplary day for Penn State’s special teams, the field goal unit remains a glaring issue. The Lions missed two more kicks — a 21-yard chip shot went wide right and a 42-yard try was blocked.
Tyler Davis did manage to knock through a 45-yarder in the second half, but the previously steady kicker is now an alarming 5 for 11 on the season.
And the blame throughout the season can be spread around as the Lions have faced problems with a new long snapper and a new holder as well as some missed blocking assignments up front.
“Obviously, we’ve gotta get the field goal situation cleaned up,” Franklin said. “That’s unacceptable. Not pleased with that at all.”
• Star tight end Mike Gesicki was shaken up after taking a hard hit on a catch over the middle in the second quarter. The senior initially had trouble getting to his feet and briefly needed help walking before making it to the sideline on his own.
He did not return for the second half and was replaced by Jon Holland, with Tom Pancoast also making a cameo. No update was available after the game.
• Tackle Chasz Wright was back in uniform after sitting out the Iowa game. But it was redshirt freshman Will Fries who started at right tackle in his place.
Fries now has two career starts, both at different positions. He played left guard against Georgia State when Brendan Mahon was held out.
Wright entered the game late in the first quarter and saw a few series of work. Andrew Nelson, however, did not dress. Fries had replaced Nelson out at Iowa after the fifth-year senior was beaten for a hit on McSorley that caused an interception.
• Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was back on the field for the first time since suffering an apparent lower-body injury in the fourth quarter against Pitt.
He was needed against Indiana’s pass-heavy offense as he and Christian Campbell regularly manned the outside with Grant Haley lining up in the slot. He came up with his second interception of the season to end Indiana’s opening drive of the second half.
Penn State heads out for another tricky road test next Saturday, but for the opposite reason. Whereas Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium was rocking in primetime a week ago, Northwestern’s modest Ryan Field figures to be a sleepy atmosphere for an 11 a.m. local kickoff (noon Eastern).
There might have been more buzz in Evanston for the matchup had the Wildcats built on a 10-7 halftime lead on Saturday against West Division favorite Wisconsin. But the Badgers snuffed out a late rally to earn a 33-24 win in Madison.
The Wildcats enter the contest at a somewhat disappointing 3-2, having also been crushed on the road at Duke 41-17.
It will be Penn State’s final game before a bye week, after which the Lions must play Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State in three straight weeks.