Returning Dominators: No. 5 “Hart” Attack

In this series, I’m breaking down the top-10 returning college wide receivers from 2017 by dominator rating (DR). If you’re unfamiliar with dominator rating, it’s a receiver’s combined market share of receiving yardage and touchdowns. While it’s only one element in receiver evaluation – and requires age and experience adjustments to tell the full story – it provides an excellent snapshot of a player’s role within his offense.

Consider this an early look at potential rookies in the 2019 class to get a jump-start on the draft season. I’ll take a look back at their prospect profiles and rankings from high school, their production at the college level, and prospects for the NFL. The 2017 countdown included Michael GallupCourtland SuttonAnthony Miller, and Richie James.

Number five in our countdown entered the 2018 season as the NCAA active leader in receiving yards (2,281) and receiving touchdowns (17). 

Penny Hart – Georgia State

Hart is a 5-foot-8-inch, 180-pound Redshirt Junior wide receiver from Roswell, Georgia. He was a four-year starter at King’s Ridge Christian, playing quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. He was named first-team all-region as a junior and a senior and all-area. Hart was rated a two-star athlete and received interest from Georgia Southern before signing with Georgia State in January of 2015.

He played in every game as a true freshman and wasted no time making an impact. Hart took his first collegiate reception 53 yards for a touchdown and never looked back, leading the Panthers in every receiving category. His 71 receptions tied a school record, for 1,099 yards (25 percent market share) and eight touchdowns (29 percent market share).

He had five 100-yard games, including a 128-yard performance against No. 12 Oregon. Hart also tied the single-game school record for receptions with 11 versus New Mexico State. He was named the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, First-Team All-Sun Belt, FWAA Freshman All-American, and 247 Sports True Freshman All-American. At 19, Hart posted a strong dominator rating of 0.27 and just missed breaking out.

He was named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference First-Team and Preseason Watch List for the Biletnikoff Award in 2016. However, he entered the year with a hamstring injury and missed two of the first three games. In game four, Hart broke his foot, ending his season and was redshirted to save eligibility.

Year Class Games Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Team Passing Team TDs MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2015 Fr. 13 71 1,099 8 4,367 28 0.25 0.29 0.27
2017 R-So. 12 74 1,121 8 3,248 15 0.35 0.53 0.44

He returned healthy in 2017 and picked-up right where he left off as a freshman. This time he set a new school record for receptions in a season with 74 and fell just 57 yards short of setting a new single-season receiving yardage record, currently held by Albert Wilson. He led Georgia State easily in every category, as his closest teammates had 47 receptions and under 400 yards. Hart also broke the single-game yardage record with 191 on eight catches against Georgia Southern.

He accounted for 35 percent of the receiving yards and 53 percent of the receiving touchdowns for a 0.44 dominator rating. He earned First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference and Biletnikoff Award Watch List nominations for the second time. With 2016 lost to injury, Hart’s breakout age is 21.

He was named to Athlon Sports 2018 Preseason All-American Third-Team but is well off his 2017 pace so far. Hart has 50 receptions for 720 yards (31 percent market share) and three touchdowns (25 percent market share). He didn’t record his first 100-yard game until October and the Panthers have struggled to a 2-7 record. Overall team scoring is up but with 50 fewer passing yards per game, the pie is smaller for Hart. On the plus side, he has taken over primary punt and kick return duties and has a special teams touchdown.

Hart is draft eligible and will be 23 next July. Draft age is an important factor in forecasting wide receivers at the NFL level. Should Hart wait until 2020, he has just over a 12.5 percent chance of ever producing a WR2 season compared to over 20 percent at age 22. You won’t find him on many draft boards this early, and like No. 7 in the countdown, losing a year to injury can hurt his chances of being drafted. If he declares early for the draft and receives an invite to the combine, Hart could start as a special teams player who plays his way into more offensive snaps.