According to Penn State, Donovan Smith will enter the 2015 NFL Draft.— Greg Pickel (@GregPickel) December 29, 2014
There have been many rumors that Smith would be leaving the Lions for the NFL after this season, and those rumors have finally come to fruition. The offensive tackle will try his luck in the NFL Draft, and will hope to stick with a team. The move isn't unexpected, as Smith was one of the players on the roster who was playing for this fourth head coach during his time at Penn State (counting Larry Johnson in his brief, interim role).
As stated in his quote above, Smith has already earned his degree from Penn State, which he mentions was one of his life goals. That, alongside the relative level of success that Penn State linemen have had in the NFL have had in the last few seasons, surely made this decision a little easier for Donovan. Hopefully, NFL teams will be able to look at his career as a whole to evaluate his play and his potential after a bit of a down season in 2014, which was clouded by injuries. While he may have never blossomed into the anchor of the line that he was supposed to be, he was able to play football at a high level at Penn State and still earn his degree. That alone, should be celebrated.
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Looking forward, things become a bit murky in terms of tackle depth for the next season. Now, instead of hoping that JuCo OT Paris Palmer will challenge for a starting tackle role, the team desperately needs him to. Whatever the alignment ends up being for next season, Herb Hand will be counting on the redshirt freshmen to be able to provide depth in a pinch, if need be. Chance Sorrell, Brendan Brosnan, and Noah Beh will all likely get some time on the line, and will hopefully be able to show off what they've learned from their year of practicing, watching, and waiting.
We'll be watching and rooting for you, Donovan. And thank you for leaving us with one last, hilarious memory.