Perhaps the biggest and best surprise for Penn State in 2017 was the emergence of Brandon Smith when the Nittany Lions needed him most.
The inside line backer was the definition of solid for Brent Pry in the face of a startling dearth of talent at the linebacker position following injuries to Jason Cabinda, Brandon Bell, Jake Cooper and Jan Johnson.
Smith stepped in immediately and, while not the most athletic guy on the field, was regularly in position to make plays and did so and an impressive rate.
His second-half interception against Purdue helped turned that game around and led to a PSU blowout victory.
Smith will be back for his senior season in 2017 and will not be under the radar as he will surely see time backing up starting inside linebacker and team captain Jason Cabinda.