In-house wide receiver options to replace KeAndre Lambert-Smith for Penn State football

Penn State was already thin at receiver before the spring transfer portal opened, but with two departures, Andy Kotelnicki and James Franklin may need to lock internally for replacements.
Penn State v Maryland
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Even after bringing Julian Fleming back to his home state, Penn State came into spring football still needed to add some depth at wide receiver. Well, now the situation is even more dire with last year’s WR1 KeAndre Lambert-Smith and backup receiver Malik Meiga both leaving the program through the portal. 

Last season Lambert-Smith led the Nittany Lions with 53 catches for 673 yards and four touchdowns, but he was likely to be relegated to WR2 or 3 with the addition of Fleming and the development of Harrison Wallace III who missed most of his sophomore season with an injury. In the Peach Bowl, Wallace unseated Lambert-Smith and Dante Cephas, who has since transferred to Kansas State. 

Lambert-Smith leaving as a grad transfer is likely a sign that young receivers are continuing to improve. James Franklin and Andy Kotelnicki will likely dip their toes back into the portal to add another weapon for Drew Allar, but if they strike out or just trust their in-house talent, then who are the top candidates to replace Lambert-Smith on the depth chart? 

6'0" 185 lbs. Omari Evans. WR. . Omari Evans. Omari Evans. . Junior. player. 491

There isn’t necessarily going to be one solution to replacing Lambert-Smith on the roster, but it’s not like Penn State truly needs to place WR1 because Franklin already took care of that. Fleming will be WR1 and Wallace WR2, so Franklin and Kotelnicki need to cobble together a WR3 option and that doesn’t just have to be one guy. 

Lambert-Smith wasn’t just one thing for Penn State’s offense, he served as a deep threat and an underneath slot receiver, Evans can take over as the former. Smith received 14 targets over 20 yards downfield and 21 from 10-19. Three of his four touchdowns came on the deep shots, though he only caught four of 14 and averaged 11.64 yards per route run. 

Evans was targeted just eight times in 2023, but three of those were over 20 yards downfield. He caught one for 60 yards against Michigan State and while it was a limited sample, his speed is undeniable. 

When Kotelnicki wants to stretch the field with a third receiver, he should lean on Evans, but when he needs an underneath security blanket from the slot, he may want to look elsewhere.