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Meet The Class 2019: Five-Star LB Brandon Smith

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Taking a prospect-by-prospect look at Penn State’s elite 2019 recruiting class.

Brandon Smith/Twitter

While Brandon Smith had interest from essentially every school in the country, it became clear rather quickly that the Nittany Lions would be tough to beat for the five-star from Virginia. Smith did take advantage of the spring official visit period, taking a trip to Texas A&M, but it was shortly after that trip that Smith made the call for Penn State.

VITALS

Position Hometown High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank
Position Hometown High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank
Linebacker Louisa, VA Louisa County 6-foot-3, 225 pounds Five-Star (99.11)

HIGHLIGHTS

SCOUTING REPORT

Where to even start? At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Smith has an absolutely massive frame with broad shoulders and long arms that makes him look more like a tight end or defensive end. This was one of the reasons why a lot of people thought he’d be a defensive end at the next level — he’s just so large. But make no mistake about, Smith is a linebacker.

The first thing that pops out when you watch Smith is his closing speed. When chasing down ball carries, he just seemingly explodes the last couple yards, bringing down the opposition violently. To put it in nature terms, it’s like watching a cheetah chase an antelope.

Athletically, it’s all there for Smith. It’s quite ridiculous how he’s able to move laterally, but also be so strong in the box. We’ll see where he ends up longterm, but sticking an athlete like him at the Mike and letting him roam sideline-to-sideline is a scary proposition for Big Ten offenses.

The physical gifts are great, but it’s Smith’s instincts that push him to being a five-star prospect. Just the way he’s able to diagnose plays pre-snap and while in action, it’s impressive stuff for a kid who could probably get away by just relying on pure athleticism. That’s not to say that Smith doesn’t have his faults — pass coverage responsibilities will be hammered home a ton during spring practice — but it’s just rare to see someone with his gifts also display the instincts to go along with it.

OUTLOOK

Smith will probably see run at both the Will and the Mike in spring, but regardless of where he ends up, he’s going to play in 2019. I’ll be surprised if he starts — he’s not passing Parsons, and asking a true freshman to play the Mike is a large ask — but Brent Pry will carve out some sort of rule for Smith in the defense next year. Flat out, he’s just too talented of a football player not to play right away. Outside of a Justin Shorter-esque injury, I don’t see any way that Smith isn’t given a full green light by August 31.

Beyond next season, Smith is a kid with All-Conference and 1st Round NFL Draft potential. We’ll see how linebacker shakes out over the next couple years, but the idea of a sophomore Brandon Smith starting next to a junior Micah Parsons should make Penn State fans extremely excited. Fun times ahead.