Congratulations are in order for Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith, who was named a semifinalist for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman.” The award is given to the best football scholar-athlete in the nation, and includes an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship to each finalist.
John Urschel was the Campbell Trophy recipient in 2013, the only Nittany Lion football player to receive this honor.
Brandon Smith graduated in December with a degree in kinesiology and is completing a second degree in health policy and administration. Smith, who currently has a 3.81 GPA and had a perfect 4.0 in spring 2017, made the Dean’s List seven times during his academic career at Penn State. Last year he was also selected for the CoSIDA Academic All-District and was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recipient.
Recently, Smith was nominated for the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his contributions to the community, largely for his work with his wife's non-profit organization, Honduran Soles, which helps provide shoes to children in need. Smith and his wife have traveled to Honduras during spring break in 2015 to help build a soccer field, volunteered at homeless shelters, and completed other community work through their church.
So far in the 2017 season, Brandon Smith has 11 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. In 2016, he began the season as a backup but became a starter in the third game after several injuries to the linebacker unit. By the end of last season, Smith had racked up 54 tackles (ranking sixth on the team), four tackles for loss, three pass breakups, two interceptions, and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after posting 14 tackles in the Maryland win.