Penn State junior linebacker Brandon Smith is officially ending his three-year Nittany Lion career. The Virginia-native has declared fo the 2022 NFL Draft, and will not play in next month's Outback Bowl vs. Arkansas.
Smith arrived in Happy Valley as the top prospect in the 12th-ranked 2019 recruiting class. He played in all 13 games as a freshman during the Lions' 11-2 2019 season. He became a full-time starter in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, starting all nine games, and all 12 during the just completed 2021 campaign.
The five-star prospect had 81 tackles (45 solo) this season, as well as one forced fumble, two sacks, and five passes defended. He wraps up his Penn State career with 131 total tackles (68 solo), four sacks, and one interception.
Smith will certainly be one of the more intriguing prospects in April's draft. Like former teammate Odafe Oweh, his collegiate production has not necessarily matched the overall skillset. ESPN draft-guru Mel Kiper ranks Smith as his No. 2 outside linebacker, behind only Michigan's David Ojabo. Smith will likely be one of several Nittany Lions to put together impressive testing numbers during the spring testing circuit. Those numbers, combined with a big 6'4 frame figure to be intriguing to a number of NFL organizations.