Five-Star Linebacker Brandon Smith Signs Letter of Intent with Penn State

By Craig Fritz on December 19, 2018 at 9:50 am
Penn State commit Brandon Smith officially signed with Penn State during the Early Signing Period in December 2018.

Welcome to early signing period for the 2019 recruiting class here at Roar Lions Roar. Make sure to check out all of our other coverage today and in the coming days, and make sure to check out each profile of the newest Nittany Lions as they sign their letters of intent. (All photos you see below are courtesy of 247Sports)

Penn State has now signed a five-star recruit in back-to-back years for the first time since 2004-05 (seriously). Virginia linebacker Brandon Smith entertained offers from every major program in the country but found something special for him and his family in Happy Valley.

Brandon Smith
Position: Inside linebacker
Height/Weight: 6'4/228 lbs.
High School: Louisa County (VA)
247Composite Rank: ★★★★★(0.9886)
Positional Rank: No. 25 Overall, No. 2 Inside linebacker, No. 1 in Virginia
Commitment Date: May 21, 2018

247Sports Scouting Report

Thin, broad-shouldered, long-armed athlete. Needs to add bulk and mass, but length is rare. Really effective downhill tackler. Shoots gaps decisively and plays with quickness and burst. Has pass-rush versatility. Impacts throwing lanes with length. Testing numbers validate game speed that pops. Relies too much on long arms in space, which can get him off balance. Can get lost in coverage at times. May take some patience from a physical development standpoint. Will develop into an impact Power Five starter over time and has tools to become a first round NFL Draft pick. (More at 247Sports)

NFL Comparison: Zach Cunningham

RLR's Take

An early-enrollee, Smith will get thrown into Dwight Galt's lab right away to add mass and strength to his 6-4 frame. The eight-month head start will have him ready to be a first-year contributor to Brent Pry's unit. Still, fans should temper expectations just a tad as far as what to expect from the five-star as a freshman—not everyone can contribute immediately as Micah Parsons did just a year ago.

Still, the way in which the staff broke Parsons in could be a template for what they do with Smith. As he continues to gain confidence and experience in the system, he should round into form as one of the most athletically-gifted linebackers Penn State has ever had to work with. The sky is the limit for Smith.

Moving Forward

Green Light.

With five-star hype comes five-star expectations. Smith will be looked to immediately contribute to a linebacker unit that hasn't had an athlete of his caliber man the MIKE position in some time. As mentioned above, those contributions will likely not come all at once, rather in a natural progression that sees Smith find increased playing time as the season moves forward.

Of course, he could also arrive on campus early and completely blow away the coaching staff and win the middle linebacker battle outright (or perhaps even shift to the outside as a freshman learning the ropes). That's not the most likely scenario, but it's certainly not an impossible one. With Smith, fellow freshman Lance Dixon, and one of last year's freshman stars Micah Parsons, Penn State has amassed the most impressive collection of linebacker talent its had in years.


2019 Linebacker Scholarship Chart
Seniors Juniors Sophomores Freshmen
Cameron Brown Dae'Lun Darien* Ellis Brooks* Charlie Katshir*
Jan Johnson*   Jesse Luketa Brandon Smith
Jarvis Miller*   Micah Parsons Lance Dixon

* denotes redshirt season taken

Welcome to Penn State, Brandon.