Penn State Nittany Lions: Brandon Smith

Mailbag: DE Bars, run-ons & scheduling 

July, 19, 2013
Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Jim Murphy writes: How will Brad Bars' injury impact depth for the Lions this season? Was he poised for significant playing time?

Josh Moyer: He had high expectations back in February. I last talked to a smiling Bars during Thon weekend, when he volunteered to show host families around the football building. He said this at the time: "I feel like this is the season I'm going to take my game to another level. My expectations have risen a lot. ... I expect to be a key player on the team this year."

Tales From The Road: Penn State 

May, 29, 2013
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Every Wednesday, as part of a RecruitingNation-wide series, NittanyNation will take a closer look at what's going on in the world of Penn State recruiting.

This week's targets: Defensive coordinator John Butler stopped by Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood on Tuesday, his second visit there this month, to see 2015 linebacker Jake Cooper.

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5 Questions: Run-on LB Brandon Smith 

April, 5, 2013
Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a recruit, player, alum or coach about all things Penn State.

This week's subject is Brandon Smith, a run-on linebacker out of Lewisburg (Pa.) High School who committed to Penn State in January. He chose the Nittany Lions over offers from FCS schools Penn and Princeton.

NittanyNation: Between Ben Kline recovering from surgery and Zayd Issah's situation, depth at linebacker isn't all that great this year. Bill O'Brien has said as much, so it seems like your role is more important now. What's your approach with that, and what do you think that does for you?

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Meet the run-ons: LB Brandon Smith 

February, 13, 2013
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.

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Run-ons overview: Defense/special teams 

February, 11, 2013
Bill O'BrienRich Barnes-USA TODAY SportsBill O'Brien is building a base for the future with PSU's run-on program.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien has constantly emphasized the importance of his run-on program, and his hope is this will allow him to add needed depth during a time of sanctions and scholarship reductions.

Penn State's head coach said last week he was hoping to add about 20 walk-ons, and the count currently stands at 21. NittanyNation is aware of a handful of recruits that PSU is either still considering or who are just awaiting acceptance into the school.

But most of this run-on class is already in the books. Here's a list -- complete with film and notes -- of the players on defense and special teams who have committed as run-ons.

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LB Smith commits to PSU as walk-on

January, 28, 2013
Linebacker Brandon Smith (Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg) carried a half-dozen Bible verses, written on pieces of paper, in his jacket pockets over the weekend.

Whenever he'd wonder about his future or where he was supposed to be, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a verse. After reflecting about his college decision and re-reading those verses, he finally found peace Saturday morning.

He called up Penn State assistant Ron Vanderlinden to let him know he no longer needed to wait. Smith wanted to accept the Nittany Lions' walk-on offer, choosing to enroll at PSU over Penn.

"Penn State was the right place for me," Smith said Monday night. "A big reason I decided to go with Penn State was my relationship with the coaches -- and they're very Christian men. I had a lot of conversations about God and church, and that's something I really didn't find at other schools."

Smith drove over to his father's office Saturday in old clothes to prepare to paint his office a cream-colored shade of white. Before he dipped his brushes into the paint cans, he decided to call his recruiting coach, Mac McWhorter. When he didn't answer, he called Vanderlinden.

The two chatted about their days, and Vanderlinden explained that McWhorter was working out in the gym. Vanderlinden asked Smith about his mission trip, but the middle linebacker soon told the assistant coach there was another reason for his call.

"I told him I wanted to become a Nittany Lion," Smith said. "And Coach Vanderlinden was like, 'You got me pumped up, man!'

"And then Coach McWhorter walked by, and he handed the phone off to him. And he said, 'Welcome to Penn State! So, are you thinking about that opening kickoff next year about Syracuse and making that tackle?' It was pretty exciting."

Smith grew up about a 75-minute drive from campus and attended his first Penn State game when he was about one year old. He dreamed about running out of Beaver Stadium's south tunnel since he started playing football, and he's been a fan of the Blue and White for a long time.

He was tempted to maybe play at Penn or Princeton because of the Ivy League education, but he couldn't turn down the chance to run out onto a field surrounded by 100,000 screaming fans. He felt just as important as the scholarship players, he said -- he felt wanted. And his girlfriend wrote him 200 Bible verses, one for each day until signing day, to help Smith along.

So, come Saturday morning, the linebacker said he had no more misgivings. He felt he was leaning toward Penn State for awhile, and he decided to finally commit.

"There was no question," he said. "I felt I was supposed to go to Penn State.

"The bottom line is I'm going to have to come in and work hard, so I've just been thinking that I'll keep training and working hard and hopefully I'll get a spot on special teams next year and work as far into the lineup as I can. I'm excited for the opportunity."