By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
---- — Some may question Lewisburg Brandon Smith's decision to walk on at Penn State despite getting two offers from Ivy League schools at both Penn and Princeton. For the Lewisburg senior though, it all came down to his faith and believing in it. Nothing else really mattered to him.
Smith's girlfriend, Andrea Cole, wrote down nearly 200 various Bible verses and Smith went through and pulled out six of them. Each one was something that helped lead him to his decision by offering him guidance to prayers he had.
"I was looking into those (Penn and Princeton) pretty seriously, but just a lot of prayers (helped lead to my decision)," Smith said. "(The verses were) just what I needed to hear, needed to see and that was enough for me and my parents and they were happy about it."
Smith said it's always been a dream of his to go to Penn State, so it seems somewhat fitting that Smith, one of District 4's top linebackers, will be walking on at what is affectionately known as "Linebacker U."
"It's going to be an amazing feeling I'm pretty sure," Smith said laughing about suiting up for Penn State for the first time. "I think putting the uniform on and running out of that tunnel for the first time might stop my heart."
Smith made his decision on Saturday about where he was going to go and after he came to that conclusion, he never looked back.
The 6-foot-2 senior is more than confident in his ability as a linebacker -- a position at which he was named all-state for three straight seasons -- and is positive at what lies in store for him at Penn State.
"I talked a lot with (linebacker) coach Ron Vanderlinden and I don't think he is trying to restrict me at practice either," Smith said. "I believe what he's telling me and (the) bottom line is I'm going to go there and work my butt off and hopefully earn a spot eventually and put the work in."
Smith was the heart and soul of the Lewisburg Green Dragons, both offensively and defensively.
While lined up in the backfield on offense, Smith was third in the area with rushing yards, running for 1,095 yards on 145 carries, and scored 19 touchdowns as he led the area with an impressive 7.6 yards per rush. Smith also reeled in 30 receptions for 366 yards and four touchdowns, and led the area with 144 total points (24 touchdowns).
Defensively, Smith was a three-year starter at linebacker. He recorded 122 tackles, six for loss, two sacks, six pass break-ups and snagged two interceptions this season. Smith had at least 100 tackles per season for the last three.
He helped Lewisburg compile an 8-3 record this past season as the Green Dragons lost to Montoursville 37-33, preventing the Green Dragons from once again appearing in the District 4 Class AA semifinals.
The Lewisburg running back and linebacker was The Daily Item's 2012 Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, being selected as a first-team running back and first-team linebacker. Smith has been named The Daily Item Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons. It was his first honor as Offensive Player of the Year.
Smith, also a state medalist in wrestling and track & field, capped his senior season with his third consecutive all-state honor at linebacker in Class AA in addition to being named to the HAC-II first team.