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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
LB Smith 'confident' in future PSU offer

By Josh Moyer

Chad Smith (Sterling, Va./Dominion) sat in front of his father's chalkboard over the spring as the two plotted out the five camps he'd attend.

"Cincinnati or Penn State?" his father asked.

"Penn State," Smith responded.

His father would give the 2015 linebacker/wideout two choices, mark down the favorite and narrow down the list that way. In the end, Penn State came out as the top choice for a camp. (UNC, Virginia Tech, Clemson and West Virginia were the others.) And a few weeks later, PSU assistant Larry Johnson stopped by Dominion to invite Smith to PSU's camp anyway.

So, the decision came full-circle, and his response to Johnson was an immediate "yes." The only thing he really needed to figure out was which position to focus on.

"I wasn't necessarily focused on receiver or linebacker," said Smith, who stands 6-foot-4. "I was just undecided."

He registered for a NIKE camp at receiver, did all right, then signed up for a second one at linebacker. His high school coach accompanied him and approached him after that second performance. Smith had dominated.

So, when the time came to pick a position for PSU's advanced skills camp Saturday, the decision was already made. It was Linebacker U, after all, so he didn't have to think much. Linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden pulled him aside early, and he kept a close eye on Smith and two other 'backers for the majority of the two-session camp.

Smith was plugged into the first grouping during 7-on-7s, and he moved quickly for a linebacker who towered three and five inches over the other two. The rising junior spoke quickly and enthusiastically a day later when he recalled the attention he received -- and the fact Vanderlinden compared him to former PSU great Paul Posluszny.

"I sat down with Coach Johnson, and he just said that I really stood out to them at camp in a great way and that the linebackers coach really likes how I play," Smith said. "He said they're really high on me because I'm a great athlete and a great student, and those are the kinds of players they're looking for."

The 199-pound linebacker was told he needed to bulk up some, but he's a player the staff plans to follow now. Johnson passed along his business card inside his office and told Smith to come up for at least one game.

Smith already holds an offer from FCS school Charlotte, but he's still awating his first FBS offer. And, with what Johnson said next, the wideout/linebacker is hoping PSU might just offer a few games into his junior season.

"He said they look forward to seeing me develop in the future, and he wanted to see film from my first few junior games this coming season," he said. "I'm not exactly sure what that meant, but I'm hoping, I'm confident, that they'll be one of the schools to offer me this year."

After his performance at PSU's camp, Smith decided that he's definitely sticking to linebacker at future camps. He started both ways as a sophomore -- and he'll do so again as a junior -- but he feels as if his future is at linebacker. With his unique size, it'd be difficult to argue.

Looking back on his decision a few months ago to attend PSU's camp, before he even knew for certain linebacker was the right position, Smith said he couldn't be happier. He's still finding it hard to believe that Linebacker U thinks he'd make a great linebacker.

"Coming away from that meeting was pretty surreal," Smith said. "I'm like, man, that's crazy. I could get an offer from Linebacker U. It's a great school. This is just amazing."