When looking at Penn State’s roster heading into the 2014 season, there’s definitely no lack of talent at the tight end receiver. The Nittany Lions have the luxury of several talented tight ends that are big weapons in the passing attack. One of those tight ends, junior Jesse James, has been named preseason first-team All-Big Ten by the Sporting News.
James has been making a big impact for the Nittany Lions ever since his freshman year in 2012. During that season, he caught 15 passes for 276 yards and finished second on the team with five touchdowns. He returned to the field last year and once again was productive. As a sophomore, James finished with 333 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns, which tied for second on the team in that category.
The talented tight end has proven to be a key part of the offense, as he’s got great hands and presents a big target, standing at six-foot-seven and 257 pounds, especially in the red zone. He can be a difficult matchup for defenses in the middle of the field. James helped quarterback Christian Hackenberg win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors last season.
The Penn State offense will look differently this year than it did over the past two seasons. Former head coach Bill O’Brien employed a tight end-friendly style of offense, one that helped James and fellow tight ends Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman flourish. It’s still yet to be seen exactly how the tight ends will be used by new head coach James Franklin.
Even with the new offense, the tight ends should still have a big season. With former No. 1 wide receiver Allen Robinson gone to the NFL, it’ll be important that other guys step up. James has as much upside as anyone to do that. He’s a proven player who’s obviously already found his way onto the radar of those who make the watch lists for the various awards.
Being named a preseason first-team All-Big Ten player could put added pressure on James, but chances are he’ll rise to the occasion and put together a third-straight great season.