Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith has officially wrapped up his college football career. On Friday, Smith announced he will opt out of Penn State’s appearance in the Outback Bowl and will begin preparing for the 2022 NFL draft. Smith declared himself eligible for the NFL draft with a statement on his Twitter account, confirming he has indeed played his final game in a Penn State uniform.
“I am going to forgo my senior year and the bowl game and enter the 2022 NFL Draft,” Smith said in his statement on his Twitter account on Friday. “I will continue to work hard and do my best to represent my school and my family to the best of my ability on and off the field. We Are Penn State!”
Smith was Penn State’s second-leading tackler in 2021 with 81 total tackles, including 45 solo tackles. Smith had 9.0 tackles for a loss and two sacks for the Nittany Lions during the 2021 season after making a slight position change within the linebacker position. It was a bit of an up-and-down season for Smith overall, but that doesn’t necessarily suggest he is making a bad decision in opting to turn pro heading into the 2022 season.
Although, some of the early reactions to Smith’s decision appear to be hesitant to suggest he is making the best decision. With two years of eligibility and coming off a rather unflattering season overall, there seems to be a pretty widespread opinion that Smith could have been better off returning for one more season of college football before pursuing his NFL dream.
But, of course, this is a personal decision of Smith and he surely isn’t making this decision half-hazardly. And there will be plenty of time now to begin preparing for the NFL draft cycle and work on impressive scouts and NFL coaches in workouts and combine-type activities. And if there is one thing Penn State players tend to do well, it is to leave a solid impression in the NFL combine activities.
Smith’s sudden departure leaves Penn State without one of its fixtures on the starting defense for the Outback Bowl against Arkansas. Barring any other unforeseen changes to the roster availability for the bowl game, Penn State will have to fill in a new player to start at the Will linebacker position. Charlie Katshir may be the most likely candidate to step into the role. The junior has appeared in 10 games for Penn State this season and has recorded just 10 tackles in a mostly reserve role.