Gatlin Casey didn’t catch a touchdown pass in the first two games of the season. Lehigh went 0-2 during the stretch.
Over the next nine games, however, Casey turned into a star wide receiver and the Hawks put together an impressive winning streak.
The former Navarre standout caught at least one touchdown pass in nine consecutive games, helping Lehigh win the Patriot League championship and clinch a berth in the FCS playoffs.
Casey isn’t exactly surprised by the success he enjoyed during his remarkable junior season. He felt good heading into the season, confident his offseason was as productive as it could be and well aware that he was expected to be a bigger part of Lehigh’s offense.
“I had a really good summer and I felt I was going to get more touches. I just had to make the most of those opportunities,” Casey said. “I came in bigger and faster and was able to break tackles to get yards after the catch.”
With three receivers who finished the season with 60 or more catches, Casey said defenses couldn’t key in on just one player. That opened the door for Casey to make big-time plays.
“We had a lot of talent at wide receiver, so it made it tough for teams to double cover someone,” Casey said. “We saw a lot of man coverage and I took advantage of it. I had opportunities to make plays.”
Casey’s numbers were crazy impressive.
In 12 games he made 62 catches for 1,135 yards, scoring 14 touchdowns along the way. During his nine-game TD streak, Casey caught two or more TDs in four of those games.
The numbers are even more amazing when you consider how far Casey came from his sophomore season when he made 34 catches for 488 yards and four TDs.
He credits the tale of two seasons to his growth as a college football player.
“I definitely learned a lot more about preparing for a game. I watched a lot of film,” Casey said. “I’m blessed to be in this situation. All of my hard work has paid off.”
Read more in the Jan. 5 edition of the Navarre Press or subscribe online here.