Omari Evans Shines As Potential Starter At Wide Receiver In Blue-White Performance
Since the beginning of spring practice for Penn State football, James Franklin has been looking for depth at the wide receiver position. Early on, Franklin felt that he could name his top two receivers from his roster: KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Trey Wallace. What he needed most at the position was a No. 3 receiver — someone who could be a weekly starter, but not someone who needed to take over.
A few names bounced around training camp, including Malik McClain, Kaden Saunders, and Liam Clifford, who have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the position. But recently, it’s been Omari Evans who has emerged as a possible starter the most to Franklin.
“About the last week and a half, we moved [Evans] into that spot,” Franklin said after the 2023 Blue-White Game. “Obviously, today was something to build on. There’s no doubt about it. But he’s got all the tools, [he has] to grind through it and continue to get good at his craft.”
In a shortened Blue-White matchup, Evans stood out. The sophomore was one of Drew Allar and Beau Pribula’s favorite targets on the Blue Team, catching five passes for 80 yards and the game’s only touchdown. It was a breakout game that may have solidified his position as a starter for when West Virginia comes to Beaver Stadium in September.
Evans’ performance and attitude didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates. It’s clear that the wideout took a step forward today, and he knows it.
“I’m pretty sure he’s feeling excited,” Lambert-Smith said. “I could tell from his demeanor in the locker room. He put on a good show today.”
Evans feels that this step forward in his development was a long time coming. He’s worked hard over the past few months, he said. He just wants to continue to improve and utilized any chances that he’s handed.
“I feel I got way better from last spring. I’m developing,” Evans said. “I learned that you have to make the most out of every opportunity you get and don’t get down on yourself. Just keep grinding.”
Evans did have one setback in the Blue-White Game: a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after his touchdown. The celebration after the score earned him 50 burpees on the Blue Team sideline and some comments from those around him. It was a reminder to stay focused on the game and out of trouble.
The contest for Evans’ spot as a starter isn’t over. Franklin has repeatedly emphasized that he wants competition at every position and that he likes to challenge the player that he sees as the last starter on the depth chart. Still, Evans seems to be solidifying his role on the roster as spring camp comes to a close.
Despite his recent success, Evans is still focused on the big picture. He wants to challenge and be challenged by his teammates as they progress toward the 2023 season.
“It’s just a brotherhood so everybody knows what we’re here for,” Evans said. “So, at the end of the day, we all love each other, but we have to compete to make each other better as a whole.”
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