Donovan Smith to Enter 2015 NFL Draft
So, just when you were finding new hope for the 2015 season for Penn State, we find that Donovan Smith, universally regarded as the best of the Five Traffic Cones (aka the 2014 Penn State offensive line), will forego his final season at the University.
I think it’s a good idea. The offensive line continues to be a rebuilding project, and it shouldn’t improve significantly in 2015. If Smith were to hang around, his NFL value would probably be reduced by association with the work in progress.
The official PSU Athletic Department media release follows.
Dec. 29, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; December 29, 2014 – Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith (Owings Mills, Md.) has decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility and will enter the 2015 National Football League Draft. The redshirt junior started 31 games at left tackle over the past three seasons.
“It seems like it was yesterday that I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with the greatest college football coach in history, Joseph Vincent Paterno,” Smith stated. “I promised him and my family that I would get my degree. After achieving one of my life goals of receiving a degree from The Pennsylvania State University, I feel it’s time to continue the pursuit of my dream of becoming a NFL player. The past four years have been a physical and emotional roller coaster, but have ultimately made me a better man.
“Thank you to my family, all of my teammates, coaches and the best fan base in college football for the best four years of my life. I am eternally grateful to you all. WE ARE!!!!”
“We want to thank Donovan and wish him all the best at the next level,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said. “We appreciate his contributions to the program and his dedication to earning his degree this semester, doing so in three-and-a-half years.”
Smith’s 31 career starts are tied for second-highest on the 2014 squad. A pre-season candidate for the Outland Trophy, Smith concluded his career by helping the Nittany Lions rally from a 21-7 third quarter deficit to beat Boston College, 31-30 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. He helped Penn State gain 453 yards and 25 first downs in the overtime win over Eagles, also boosting quarterback Christian Hackenberg to break or tie nine school bowl records.
A U.S. Army All-American at Owings Mills High School, the 6-5, 340-pound Smith graduated with his degree in criminology earlier this month.
Penn State will return three offensive line starters in center Angelo Mangiro, guard Brian Gaia and tackle Andrew Nelson. Three other returning offensive linemen – Derek Dowrey, Wendy Laurent and Brendan Mahon – started games this season and the Nittany Lions will welcome offensive tackles and recent signees Paris Palmer and Sterling Jenkins in January.
The Nittany Lions have earned 10 consecutive on-field winning seasons, a mark matched by only Wisconsin among Big Ten Conference teams. Penn State’s 28 bowl wins are tied with Oklahoma for No. 3 in the nation.
Penn State returns 17 starters (8 offense, 8 defense, 1 specialist) for the 2015 season. The Blue-White Game is Saturday, April 18 in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions open the 2015 season on Saturday, Sept. 5 vs. Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Penn State season ticket renewals are underway for the 2015 campaign. There will not be any increase in the price of Penn State football season tickets or Nittany Lion Club donation levels for next season. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2015 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays, 10 a.m-6 p.m.
Penn State Football is on Twitter (@PennStateFball) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/PSUFball).