Penn State gets another chance with official visit from elite 2025 wide receiver

James Franklin and Andy Kotelnicki have already missed out on important wide receiver targets for the Class of 2025, so Koby Howard joining this weekend's official visit gives the Nittany Lions another chance to land an elite talent at the position.
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) listens to offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) listens to offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki / Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Allar was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the 2022 class, but he didn’t play like it in 2023. As a sophomore, Allar was passable, not quite as stellar as 25 touchdowns to two interceptions would indicate, and a bit better than a 59.9% completion percentage. 

Detractors would argue that he lacks the aggressiveness to create big plays and he scared off KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Dante Cephas who had disappointing years. Allar’s biggest supporters would counter that Mike Yurcich’s offense was unimaginative and a lack of wide receiver talent hamstrung the young quarterback. Still, everyone would agree that for Penn State to succeed, James Franklin needs to add more talent at wide receiver. 

To his credit, Franklin and new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki took a few swings this offseason, first reeling Julian Fleming back to his home state after four years at Ohio State, then bringing in elite receiver talent like Quincy Porter and Phillip Bell to Happy Valley for summer official visits. Porter, a New Jersey four-star, committed to the Buckeyes, and Bell, the California kid, appears to be headed to USC. Yet, there are still a few quality options for the Nittany Lions to land, including Koby Howard who was a late addition to Penn State’s final group of summer official visits this weekend. 

Howard is rated as a three-star by 247Sports but has four-star ratings elsewhere. While he may not be ready to help the offense right away, once he develops, he would bring Penn State what it desperately needs, a big-play threat. 

The problem is, that Rivals, one of the outlets to rate Howard as a four-star recruit, reported on Thursday that Ole Miss has emerged as the favorite for Howard after a visit last week. Howard reportedly called Lane Kiffin an “offensive genius.” Kotelnicki must prove that he and Franklin can provide a similar level of quality and creativity from the offensive coaching staff. 

While he isn’t much of a refined route-runner, the Hollywood, Florida product has elite speed, something neither Kiffin nor Kotelnicki can teach. His route tree mostly consists of go-routes down the sideline and a variety of screens to get the ball into his hands quickly. 

Howard can make defenders miss with his quickness and has the footwork to beat press coverage, but that hasn’t translated to refined route-running. Though that’s not to say that he can’t develop, he shows the ability to decelerate at the top of routes, when he’s asked to run a comeback or some type of in-breaker, that just doesn’t happen very often. 

Florida, Florida State, Missouri, and Texas A&M are all involved in Howard’s recruiting, but Ole Miss is the favorite and the good news for Franklin is that Ole Miss isn’t Ohio State. The Nittany Lions haven’t bested the Buckeyes for many quality receivers in recent years, and after losing out to Ryan Day on Quincy Porter who was a perfect fit for Kotelnicki’s system, Franklin added another option with Howard coming on an official visit. 

Outside of Porter, Bell, and Howard, Penn State is still in the mix for four-star Lex Cyrus from Susquehanna Township and Portsmouth, Virginia four-star Matthew Outten along with a bevy of other three-stars. Cornerback and wide receiver were the two top priorities this offseason and the former has already been addressed. It’s hard to expect Penn State to replenish the wide receiver group as effectively, but beyond three-star commit Lyrick Samuel, Franklin simply cannot come away empty-handed in the Class of 2025.