Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a recruit, player, alum or coach about all things Penn State.
This week's subject is Brandon Smith, a run-on linebacker out of Lewisburg (Pa.) High School who committed to Penn State in January. He chose the Nittany Lions over offers from FCS schools Penn and Princeton.
NittanyNation: Between Ben Kline recovering from surgery and Zayd Issah's situation, depth at linebacker isn't all that great this year. Bill O'Brien has said as much, so it seems like your role is more important now. What's your approach with that, and what do you think that does for you?
Brandon Smith: Well, I sure hope that it gives me a better shot. But the thing is I can't control what other people are doing. I can only take care of my own business. So I'm going to put the time in and go do the extra work and see where that gets me -- and just trust in the Lord and trust the coaches that they'll mold me in the best linebacker I can be.
If there's injuries or whatever with other players, that's over my head. So I'm just taking care of my own work.
NN: With that depth and everything, what are your expectations now as far as contributing?
BS: I'm going to leave that up to the coaches, but my expectation is to compete for a spot at linebacker and get as far up the depth chart I can. And, if not, work hard and start on special teams so I can at least get on the field. And if they want to redshirt me, that'll be fine, too, so I can get bigger and faster. So I guess we'll just have to see.
NN: What are you going to miss most from high school, and what are you most looking forward to about Penn State?
BS: Well, I think the obvious thing as far as sports goes is I don't think I'm going to be the big man on campus anymore -- which at the same time is something I might miss, but it's also something that I'm looking forward to. I'm going to have to go in there and work harder than all the other guys and take my hits the first year or two while working hard. I'm looking forward to do the best I can.
But, like I said, I'll probably miss being the biggest guy on the field and at practice. I guess I can take my beatings this first year because it's going to be a whole new experience. And with school and classes and everything, I'm just excited. There's going to be so many people there, I'm sure I'll find a few new friends.
NN: Looking back on your decision, how do you feel about it now that you're less than three months away from starting at PSU? And what did push you over the edge in the first place?
BS: I definitely got to say that I trusted in God with the whole decision-making process, and I stand by that. I know it's a great place to be, and I'm excited to go up there and compete on the field and in the classroom. But as far as the feedback I've gotten from family and the community, it's give me more reassurance that Penn State is a good place for me.
A lot of people have come up to me and expressed how happy they are and everything, and I just think it's something that some people around here are excited for, and I'm happy I could be a part of that. Sometimes, I don't even know who the people are -- but they seem to be interested and engaged in my life. It's a great feeling.
NN: How do you hope this run-on class is remembered by the time you leave Penn State?
BS: I hope we're remembered as just the type of player you think of when you think of Penn State -- and that's hard workers in the classroom and on the field. Just humble people who compete at a high level but aren't flashy and just go and take care of business that they're expected to.
Our senior year, or redshirt junior year for some people, hopefully, we'll be able to compete for a championship with Coach O'Brien there and with the excellent staff. I expect nothing less than a chance at all that.