Engram embraces his legacy at wide receiver for Penn State
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Bobby Engram sprinted away from the question the same way he had for scores of precisely-executed post routes over the course of his career.
Asked if it was possible to accurately compare receivers across eras now that Allen Robinson has begun to erode Engram's prominent place in the Penn State record book, Engram paused.
“That's the age old, ‘Can this guy play in this decade?' ‘Can this guy play in that era?'” Engram said.
“I think we all know good football – and I think he's a good football player.”
So was Engram. And now, Engram is proving adept at producing the next generation of great receivers.
Engram, whose Nittany Lions' season receiving yards record was broken last week by Robinson, is in his second year as Pitt's receivers coach. And he's establishing a solid resumé.
Last season Engram oversaw the performance of Mike Shanahan and Devin Street, who nearly became the Panthers' first 1,000-yard season receiving duo. This season Engram has been instrumental in the development of Tyler Boyd.
A true freshman who didn't play much wide receiver while at a Class A high school, Clairton's Boyd has a team-leading 53 catches for 729 yards and six touchdowns.
Boyd, who considered going to Penn State during his recruitment, said Engram has been a “real big” part of his remarkable quick success.
“He's a person who always makes me do right,” Boyd said. “From the littlest thing to catching the ball, to the route — to everything”
Street, a senior, has 11 touchdowns in 22 games under Engram after having four over his first 24 games.
Street said he and Engram are close “more than words can explain... He's going to be in my life probably for the rest of my life, hopefully. A guy I would invite to my wedding.”
Engram maintained an interest in coaching throughout a 14-year NFL career, running football camps during his offseasons. He began as an offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011.
Engram's best season (94 catches, 1,147 yards, six touchdowns) came as a 34-year-old in 2007 with the Seattle Seahawks.
“I had some good coaches who really made me understand the importance of really grasping the defense and how they are trying to defend you,” Engram said. “The older I got in my career the more I appreciated that and coaches were able to help me do.”
Now, he's finding his own niche in doing the same for younger receivers. “He always pulls up film of him playing at Penn State,” Boyd said, “to show us technique and show us his game so he can teach us it. We learn from it.”
Robinson last season topped Engram's Penn State season receptions record he shared with O.J. McDuffie. Engram still holds the Lions' season touchdowns, career touchdowns and career yardage receiving records.
“Let them keep falling, man,” said Engram, who said he has liked what he's seen when he watches Robinson play.
“The way I look at it is it's a legacy that was left there by Kenny Jackson, by O.J. McDuffie, by myself, by Bryant Johnson... by all of the guys who came before him. And he's just adding to that legacy.”
Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
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