KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Penn State’s leading receiver in 2023, enters transfer portal

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KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Penn State’s leading receiver in 2023, enters transfer portal

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State’s receiving corps shuffle continues. KeAndre Lambert-Smith, the Nittany Lions’ top target last season, has entered the transfer portal as a graduate transfer, The Athletic has learned. Lambert-Smith, a senior, wasn’t at practice Tuesday night during the media viewing window and wasn’t present at Saturday’s Blue-White game, either.

Lambert-Smith led the Nittany Lions last season with 53 receptions for 673 yards and four touchdowns. Although he was expected to be a key contributor this season, his departure also isn’t too surprising. Lambert-Smith disappeared down the stretch last fall, with just two catches for 28 yards over the final four games of the regular season. He declined all interview requests after being held without a catch and dropping one pass in the Peach Bowl loss to Ole Miss. He hadn’t met with reporters since early November.

Still, Penn State remained optimistic this spring that Lambert-Smith would become the consistent deep threat they needed. A few weeks ago, Franklin spoke glowingly about Lambert-Smith’s transformation, saying he had “shown some real flashes” and was doing so with more regularity.

In hindsight, that comment might’ve been a last-ditch effort by the coach to try to keep the senior.

“I think (offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki has) done a really good job with him as well. They seem to have a good relationship,” Franklin said. “I think (wide receivers coach Marques Hagans) has done a really good job of developing relationships with the whole room. Obviously, we need him to have a big year and expect him to have a big year.”

The shortcomings of the receiving corps became one of the team’s biggest storylines last year. Penn State hoped to address that glaring need by changing offensive coordinators and adding Julian Fleming, the Ohio State graduate transfer who enrolled in January. Without Lambert-Smith, expect Fleming and Harrison Wallace III to be quarterback Drew Allar’s two best options; tight end Tyler Warren should also be a large part of the passing game.

Lambert-Smith is the third scholarship wide receiver from last year’s team expected to be suiting up elsewhere next season. Dante Cephas, one of the most coveted receivers in the transfer portal last year, struggled last season and didn’t play in the Peach Bowl. He has since transferred to Kansas State. Reserve receiver Cristian Driver is going through spring practices at Minnesota.

College football’s spring transfer portal window opens to all players on Tuesday and runs through April 30.

(Photo: Dan Rainville / USA Today)