ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Penn State will be without veteran Juwan Johnson on Saturday at Michigan. The junior receiver did not make the trip to Ann Arbor. He did not play in the second half due to an apparent lower body injury two weeks ago at Indiana and only played a handful of snaps in the Nittany Lions’ win over Iowa last weekend.
Johnson has been plagued by inconsistency this season. His top receiving output of the season was a six-catch, 67-yard effort against Appalachian State to open the season. He had a touchdown catch against Illinois in September and had a 59-yard catch-and-run in his last touch against the Hoosiers. He walked off the field with a noticeable limp following that Indiana matchup.
Johnson is second among Penn State players with 21 receptions for 293 yards and one touchdown.
His absence will require others to step up on the outside. Last week, DeAndre Thompkins took on a larger role, seeing a team-best seven pass targets. He finished with five catches, including three that resulted in third-down conversions. It was the fifth-year senior’s finest performance of the Big Ten schedule.
Fellow veteran Brandon Polk, a redshirt junior, has been heavily involved as an outside receiver but he’s been limited to three receptions through five conference contests.
Redshirt freshmen Mac Hippenhammer and Cam Sullivan-Browns are likely candidates to take on expanded roles vs. Michigan.
“We’ve just gotten to the point where we’re gonna play him and rotate him in,” Franklin said. “… We’re gonna play him from here on out. How much he plays, we’ll see — he’s still learning and still growing. But he’ll be a nice little complement when KJ (Hamler) needs a blow.”