By: Brendan C. Hall, USA TODAY High School Sports | November 7, 2018
Louisa County (Mineral, Va.) linebacker Brandon Smith received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Wednesday at his school as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
“I’m just overwhelmed with excitement, really,” Smith told USA TODAY following a ceremony in the school’s auditorium. “Just seeing all the people that came out to support me and all my family members. I was really excited.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Smith was named to USA TODAY’s inaugural Chosen 25 for the 2019 class earlier this fall, and has lived up to the billing for the 10-0 Lions. Last month, USA TODAY named him one of the Midseason Defensive Players of the Year for the Northeast Region.
Equipped with exceptional lateral quickness and an explosive pop, the consensus five-star recruit and Penn State commit brings an element of violence to the linebacker position not typically seen from a high school player:
“Talking to me now, I probably seem like the nicest person that you’ve ever met,” Smith laughed. “Which I am, off the field. But on the field, I know I’ve got to flip the switch, and I know there’s a job I’ve got to do. Whoever’s in my way, they’re going to get it.”
Quotes like that must have fans in Happy Valley all sorts of excited. Smith says he has been in regular contact with one of the best ever to come through Penn State’s legendary “Linebacker U” pipeline, former Washington Redskins All-Pro LaVar Arrington, chatting every few weeks. That’s music to the ears of the many Burgundy and Gold fans in his extended family (Smith himself grew up a Boston Red Sox fan). Smith looks forward to the challenge of living up to that legacy.
“It really is an honor to be put in that category, and I want to work to put myself on the level that they were,” he said. “And potentially higher, if I can say that.”
Can he be the next great Penn State linebacker?
“As long as I keep doing what I’m doing and push myself the way I have, anything is possible.”
The Under Armour All-America Game is scheduled for Jan. 3 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. and will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. EST.