Robin Dotson couldn’t help but squeal and bounce on the balls of her feet, hands clasped.
Her son, Jahan, had just juked his coverage on a route and made a graceful diving catch, attracting chatter from a cluster of college coaches on the sideline.
The move prompted Penn State receivers coach Josh Gattis to pull Dotson aside for additional instruction about his footwork, to which the latter listented raptly.
His next catch, on a 15-yard slant from top New Jersey quarterback prospect Artur Sitkowski, was even sleeker.
“That’s my baby,” laughed Robin as he jogged back in line. “He’s a good kid. Humble, soft-spoken. ... Oh, gosh. On the field, he just turns into another kid. … He’s my kid, everybody says that about their kid. But he really is something.”
Dotson was one of about 200 young attendees at Wednesday’s Peddie School Camp, which was hosted by Fordham and featured guest coaching staffs from Penn State, Virginia, UMass and South Carolina, among others.
He will play for the pricy, private Peddie School in the fall after transferring from Nazareth — Robin works in New Jersey, about an hour away from the school — and has already been attracting quite a bit of attention for such a young prospect.
It was Dotson’s first satellite camp of the year — he almost skipped it for track and field nationals in North Carolina — but because he is getting so much attention from recruiters and the camp took place at his future school, it was important to both the mother and son that he participate.
Dotson has an offer from Gattis and Penn State, as well as from Notre Dame, Rutgers, Alabama, Miami, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State and Pitt, among many others. Robin said he’s not ready to lean toward any of the programs quite yet, because of his age.
“He’s so young,” said Robin. “All of it came so fast. You know, he’s a sophomore. We weren’t expecting it (then). We were expecting senior year, maybe end of his junior year.”
The young wideout was clearly a top priority on Wednesday, and his age is actually a big part of that.
“For us, to be honest with you, the camps typically are more about the next two classes than they are about this class,” head coach James Franklin said once the camp was over. “We've already pretty much identified the guys in this class (of 2017). Maybe one or two will pop up here or there. But this is a great opportunity to get a head start on the 2018, 2019 classes.”
Among those to keep an eye on were Sitkowski, a 6-foot-4 and 215-pound pro-style quarterback who will likely be one of 247Sports’ top-25 at the position. Sitkowski certainly stood out at the Peddie Camp and even was conveniently re-positioned to sling a few throws to Dotson.
Defensive lineman Antonio Alfano also tweeted that he had picked up a Penn State offer after the camp. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Bergen Catholic product is a Class of 2019 prospect and a New Jersey native — perfect for the camp’s location.
Brooklyn linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi was also in attendance, and ran through his drills in front of a handful of watchful coaches.
“I think in the past our plan was to kind of get outside of our (recruiting) footprint,” said Franklin. “This year, we've kind of done a combination of both. We're in our footprint as well as outside. That's why we didn't do one in South Jersey. It's easy for the kids in South Jersey. But the more north you get, maybe some of those kids you're able to contact that you wouldn't in the past.”
“Some people take it strictly as 'We want to get way out of our footprint and broaden our reach' and we've tried to do a little bit of both this year.”
Penn State was in Virginia on Thursday and will return to State College on Friday and Saturday to host camps.