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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Meet the run-ons: LB Brandon Smith

By Josh Moyer

Every weekday, as part of an ongoing series, NittanyNation will take a closer look at a Penn State walk-on.

Vitals: Linebacker Brandon Smith, Lewisburg (Pa.), 6-foot-1, 210 pounds.

Picked Penn State over: Offers from Penn and Princeton.

Why he picked PSU: He attributed his decision mostly to faith. He prayed and felt that Ron Vanderlinden and the staff were very Christian men from whom he could learn. He said he didn't feel the same with other programs.

State of the position: There'll be at least seven scholarship linebackers here, and since this is Linebacker U after all, those seven aren't slouches. There's also a handful of returning walk-on linebackers, so there's a lot of depth for an incoming walk-on to work through. Incoming freshmen Zayd Issah and Brandon Bell likely would see playing time ahead of any walk-ons.

Strengths: Vanderlinden watched Smith's highlight tape with him and pointed out his instincts and brain. Smith has played linebacker for 10 years -- and competed at every skill position on offense -- so he's pretty good at diagnosing the play and learning quickly. He knows the game well.

Weaknesses: He's not the fastest or the biggest linebacker. He said he's now up to 218 pounds, but he's hoping to get up to about 230 within the next year. His 6-foot-1 height isn't ideal, but it's the same size as Mike Hull.

Potential impact: He'll have to earn his spot on this team as a special teams player. He likely will be relegated to the scout team his first season or two, but he's smart enough to understand the assignments and play any of the linebacker positions. He'll help Penn State's offense prepare early on.

Quotables: "There was no question. I felt I was supposed to go to Penn State."

Getting to know Smith: Favorite movie is "Remember the Titans" ... Favorite TV show is "Big Bang Theory" ... Favorite food is cheesesteak stromboli from a fire-brick oven ... Favorite band is Jesus Culture ... Dream vacation spot is the valleys in Alaska, complete with a good stream. ("I'm a mountain man at heart. I love the outdoors, and I just think it'd be a really beautiful place to go, and fishing in a stream would be relaxing.")