- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Penn State hasn't suffered a great deal of attrition during the transition to new head coach Bill O'Brien.
But wide receiver Devon Smith's departure on Friday accentuates the need for more offensive playmakers to emerge. O'Brien announced Smith has left the team for personal reasons. It's unclear whether Smith's departure relates to the March incident where police allegedly found evidence of marijuana use in Smith's apartment. Smith was charged in April and has applied for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program as a first-time offender. He has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Smith finished third on the team in both receptions (25) and receiving yards (402) in 2011. He averaged 16.2 yards per reception, but he wasn't a major difference-maker in Penn State's pass-challenged offense. Smith might be best known for running into Joe Paterno at a practice last August while on a pass route, causing injuries to the then-Lions coach.
While Smith wasn't a star, he started seven games in 2011 and had been listed as a starter on Penn State's post-spring depth chart, despite missing much of the spring with a foot injury. Penn State returns only one starting receiver in Justin Brown, and will need players like Alex Kenney, listed as Smith's backup on the most recent depth chart, to step up. Like the diminutive Smith (5-foot-7, 147 pounds), Kenney is a smaller receiver (6-foot, 193) who boasts very good speed.
The Lions will be much more reliant on their tight ends in O'Brien's offense, but they still need to build more depth at wide receiver for top quarterback Matthew McGloin. Unproven wideouts like Allen Robinson and Shawney Kersey need to have big summers.