Coming off a victory in the Pinstripe Bowl, Penn State had every reason to start feeling better about the state of the offensive line following a tumultuous season in the trenches. That concern grew once again heading to the offseason with the surprising announcement that offensive tackle Donovan Smith has decided to pass on his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft in 2015.
What makes it so surprising is few NFL draft analysts were even scouting Smith as a potential draft pick for 2015, despite being a redshirt junior. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report was one of the surprised draft gurus.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 29, 2014
@KevinOnCFB Never focused on him, will this week. Has length, upper strength, adequate laterally, gets beat bc of tech. Day 3 as of now?
— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) December 29, 2014
Smith has been through plenty at Penn State, playing for three different coaching staffs. He was recruited under the Joe Paterno staff, played two years for Bill O’Brien and his staff and this season for James Franklin. Perhaps he is ready to simply just move on after going through so much with this program in his time on campus.
His stock may have benefitted by returning for his final year of eligibility, especially if the offensive line was cohesive enough to allow quarterback Christian Hackenberg to improve on his stats in 2015. But the decision has been made.