It’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on.
Reminder: This is a Top 10 for how the players will produce this season. It’s not just based on what they have done in their career up to this point. Instead, it’s how we think they will play this coming season.
How He Got Here
Lambert-Smith was a four-star recruit from Norfolk, Virginia, who chose the Nittany Lions over Clemson, North Carolina, Duke and others. He was one of five receivers in the 2020 class, which also included Parker Washington, Norval Black, Malick Meiga and Jaden Dottin.
He was able to rise to the top and receive regular playing time as a true freshman, starting five games. He finished with 15 catches and 138 receiving yards, both good for fifth on the team.
Lambert-Smith took a major step forward in his second year as a Nittany Lion. He started the season strong with four catches for 71 yards against a stingy Wisconsin defense. He scored his first touchdown as a Nittany Lion a few weeks later, with a career-long 83-yard reception. He was also one of the few bright spots in the Outback Bowl loss to Arkansas, with three catches for 74 yards, and the only touchdown for the Nittany Lions on the day.
His final tally on the season was 34 catches for 521 yards, with three touchdowns and 15.3 yard per catch average - good for sixth in the Big Ten.
What to Expect in 2022
Lambert-Smith’s role will continue to increase in 2022, although he will be sharing the load with the deepest position group on the currect roster. He is likely locked in as the starter for the Z spot, and will be joined by Parker Washington, who seems poinsed for an All-Big Ten season, and Mitchell Tinsley, and uber-productive transfer from Western Kentucky.
The return of Sean Clifford under center will also boost Lambert-Smith’s production, as the two have established a strong chemistry during the past two years. Some of Lambert-Smith’s best plays thus far have been the result of Clifford finding him open downfield as a second, third, or fourth check-down.
His big-play ability will become a huge asset in 2022. Along with Washington and others, he will be one of the primary receivers who will replace the productivity of Jahan Dotson, one of the recent greats among Penn State passcatchers who was selected as the 16th overall pick by Washington.