Blue White Illustrated

November 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 1 5 7 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M W hen it's all said and done, Omari Evans will end up being one of the last players to join Penn State's 2022 recruiting class. But in every other respect, he's a speedster. Evans, a three-star wide receiver prospect from Killeen, Texas, announced his decision on Oct. 2. Listed at 6-foot, 170 pounds, he had earned an offer from head coach James Franklin at the end of June following an unofficial visit to campus. His commitment was a come-from-behind victory for the Lions, because Evans' mother, Dorian Evans, had initially been hesitant about PSU. "Honestly, at first, I didn't want to go to Penn State," she said. "But for my chil- dren, I'm always going to keep an open mind and put my best foot forward. I think what impressed me the most about their coaches was that they never put pressure on Omari. It was more like, this is what we have to offer, we know you'll be a great fit, but it's up to you and what you decide. "I respected that approach. I liked the way they handled that." One of the key moments in Evans' re- cruitment was when he performed a series of drills for the coaching staff while attending a summer camp at Penn State. The NCAA allowed 2022 prospects to work out for coaches this past summer, and Evans opted to accept the challenge, running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash and 4.2-second shuttle that afternoon. In addition to his unofficial visit in June, Evans returned to State College for the White Out victory over Auburn. Because his high school, Shoemaker, didn't have a game that week, he was able to spend Friday in State College, checking out the university as a whole. "For me, seeing the academic center, that was very important," Dorian Evans said. "I wanted to meet the people who are going to make sure he's getting all the help he needs. "Also, the atmosphere that day was great. There were a lot of people there from Auburn … and yet the atmosphere was still very calm, very polite. There was a lot of mutual respect between all the fans. I remember being in the middle of 'College GameDay' with ESPN there, and both fans are doing their chants, but it never got ugly. It never got disrespect- ful. That was just part of the day, and I loved that." Evans totaled more than two dozen scholarship offers and chose Penn State over Rutgers and Vanderbilt. He took an official visit to Piscataway in early June and then returned in September, spend- ing a personal day with coach Greg Schi- ano and his staff on Sept. 1 and attending the Knights' opener against Temple three days later. But if he was leaning toward Rutgers at that point, his official visit to Penn State a few weeks later changed everything. When Evans tweeted just a few days after the PSU visit that he planned to end his recruitment, it was a sign that the Nit- tany Lions were going to win this battle after all. This season, Evans has mostly played quarterback, amassing 787 yards of to- tal offense through four games, with 360 yards passing and 427 yards rushing. He had five touchdowns in a 58-35 win over Copperas Cove. ■ Penn State is loading up on skill position talent in the class of 2022, with receiver Omari Evans being one of the final additions. Evans is a fascinating yet difficult evalua- tion subject, because he plays quarterback, cornerback, punter and kick returner in most of his available tape. Even so, 25 schools na- tionally were interested in the Killeen, Texas, native. Here's a look at what makes him an intriguing under-the-radar prospect. STRENGTHS Speed: Evans had an epic workout at Penn State this summer in which he ran a 4.3-sec- ond 40-yard dash. That sort of speed is going to get the attention of any coaching staff, es- pecially one that wants to push the ball verti- cally. As a kick returner, he can break angles and get upfield quickly; as a quarterback, his primary job is to run the ball. When he's given a clean lane, he's nearly uncatchable. Skill diversity: When a player does as much as Evans does, it says two things. The first is that he's the best athlete on the team and his coaching staff wants him involved as much as possible. The second thing it says is that he's smart enough to handle all of those responsibilities. AREAS OF DEVELOPMENT Route running: One problem with having a wide range of skills is that you might never really develop one trait or talent. Evans has never been a full-time receiver, so he's never worked on the nuances of the positional tal- ent he will need going forward. Hands: Another unknown. Does he consis- tently catch the ball with his hands? How is he on contested catches? What is his body control like in space? The fundamental ques- tions about Evans' potential as a receiver are all unknown. Tackle breaking: The most clear trait that Evans does not possess is the ability to break tackles or make players miss in space. PROJECTION Slot receiver: It's hard to peg what skills Evans possesses outside of speed and intelli- gence to then project his path going forward. When he does play receiver, he lines up in the slot. So for now, he projects as a vertical- speed slot receiver with huge upside. It's clear that if Penn State's coaches are going to bet on something, they will bet on speed. — Thomas Frank Carr P L A Y E R E V A L U A T I O N Texas Athlete On Fast Track Following PSU Commitment RYA N S N Y D E R | S N Y D E R 4 2 0 8 8 @ G M A I L . C O M COMMITMENT PROFILE OMARI EVANS Evans piqued Penn State's interest by running a 4.3-sec- ond 40-yard dash at its summer camp. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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