For a guy who's been starting games at left tackle since he was a freshman, Donovan Smith still has something to prove. He'll be entering his third year protecting the blind side for a Penn State quarterback, and if that starting job came by default in 2012, it's something else in 2014, where, after Miles Dieffenbach's injury, he's the only returning lineman with even a modicum of experience. The unit will only be as good as Smith can take it. And that leadership, put-up-or-shut-up might be exactly what he needs.
Smith was one of the most highly-touted members of Penn State's 2011 recruiting class, and the following summer was one of the most sought-after Nittany Lions when Mark Emmert turned Holuba Hall into the largest meat market in Pennsylvania. But he came through that to lock down the job protecting Matt McGloin's blind side, though missing a couple games due to injury and rotating out, as Mac McWhorter ran a deep rotation. Last year, he was again solid on a team in transition, but as one of the most imposing physical specimens in all of college football, the sky continues to be the limit. If Smith can live up to his 6-5, 330-pound frame, he could find himself named to the All-Big Ten team, if not an All-American team, in the neat future. Let's just hope he doesn't play so well that he leaves for the NFL after the season.