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Fifteen Nittany Lions from 2017 senior class earn opportunities with NFL teams
Fessler, Haley and Smith cap college careers with prestigious honor from National Football Foundation
Barkley, Gillikin and Thompkins headline special teams honorees; Smith garners sportsmanship accolades
Brandon Smith and Blake Gillikin earn CoSIDA academic recognition
Awards: Named Penn State's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award...Earned CoSIDA Academic All-District...Selected to the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team...Named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded by the National Football Foundation, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation...Selected as a semifinalist for the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award...Earned the Letterman's Club Scholarship at the annual team banquet, a $5,000 scholarship given to an outstanding graduating senior student-athlete...Named Academic All-Big Ten.
Season: Appeared in all 13 games with four starts...One of 21 Penn Staters to enter the Fiesta Bowl having already earned a degree...Recovered his first career fumble in the Fiesta Bowl on Washington's final offensive play to secure the victory.
Akron (9/2): Made four tackles...Totaled 1.0 tackle for loss...Combined with Koa Farmer on a second-quarter tackle for loss...Teamed with Shane Simmons on a fourth-quarter tackle behind the line of scrimmage...Was a part of a defense that logged 14.0 tackles for loss, the most since recording 15.0 vs. Temple in 2015...Part of a defense that logged a season-opening shutout for the first time since 2007 (FIU, 59-0). Pittsburgh (9/9): Had one tackle. Georgia State (9/16): Made three stops...Had a tackle on punt coverage, a stop for no gain and a solo tackle for loss in the contest. at Iowa (9/23): Made two tackles, including a touchdown-saving tackle to end the third quarter...Also had one tackle on kickoff coverage. Indiana (9/30): Ranked third on the team with seven tackles. at Northwestern (10/7): Had five tackles. Michigan (10/21): Made one stop. at Ohio State (10/28): Posted one tackle. at Michigan State (11/4): Made two tackles. Rutgers (11/11): Made the start and posted 10 stops...Part of a defense that allowed just 43 passing yards, the fewest in a game since giving up 32 vs. Army (2015)...The 43 passing yards are the fewest allowed by Penn State in Big Ten play...Held Rutgers to just seven pass completions, the second-fewest allowed by the Nittany Lions in a Big Ten game...Named the coaching staff's Defensive Player of the Week. Nebraska (11/18): Piled up 13 stops for his third-career double-digit tackle game. at Maryland (11/25): Led the team with five tackles...Part of a defense that held the Terps scoreless in the first half, marking the seventh time in 2017 the Nittany Lion defense held an opponent scoreless in at least one half. vs. Washington (12/30): Totaled seven tackles...Combined with Jason Cabinda on a first-quarter tackle for loss...Recovered his first career fumble on Washington's final offensive play to seal the victory for Penn State.
➤ 2016 ➤ Junior Season
Awards: Named CoSIDA Academic All-District...Was a finalist for the Pop Warner Award...Selected Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10 after his 14-tackle effort vs. Maryland...Selected as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar...Named Academic All-Big Ten...Earned Dean's List accolades in the 2016 fall semester and a perfect 4.0 GPA in the 2017 spring semester.
Season: Appeared in all 14 games with two starts...Made his first career start at Michigan (9/24)...One of 18 first-time starters in 2016...Played just three defensive snaps in his career (all in 2016) and just 44 career snaps prior to playing 68 snaps vs. Temple (9/17).
Temple (9/17): Made eight tackles - four solo - after entering the game midway through the second quarter...Combined with Torrence Brown for his first career tackle for loss...Logged first career pass breakup...A part of a front seven that limited Temple to just 38 rushing yards, the fewest since holding Illinois to 37 yards on the ground in 2015...Was the coaching staff’s Defensive Co-Player of the Week with Parker Cothren. at Michigan (9/24): Made two tackles...Had a career-high 1.0 tackle for loss, a solo stop behind the line of scrimmage in the first quarter...Missed the final three quarters after being disqualified from the game near the start of the second quarter. Minnesota (10/1): Notched seven stops...Had one pass breakup. Maryland (10/1): Earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10 after logging a career-high 14 tackles...Made his first career interception in the first quarter...Combined with Koa Farmer on a third-quarter tackle for loss and Jordan Smith on a fourth-quarter takedown behind the line of scrimmage...Was the coaching staff’s Defensive Player of the Week. Ohio State (10/22): Totaled four tackles...Helped the defense hold Ohio State scoreless in two quarters for the first time since Michigan State in 2015, which was Ohio State’s last loss. at Purdue (10/29): Pulled in his second career interception, returning it 22 yards to set up Penn State’s opening score of the second half...Logged four tackles. Iowa (11/5): Ranked second on the team with four tackles...Helped the defense hold Iowa to just 30 yards rushing...It was the fewest rushing yards allowed by Penn State since holding Massachusetts to three yards in 2014...It marked the first time Penn State held consecutive opponents to 46 yards rushing or fewer since 2007 (Notre Dame, zero yards; FIU, minus-3 yards)...It was the first time since Penn State joined the Big Ten that it held consecutive conference opponents to 50 yards or less of rushing. at Indiana (11/12): Notched three tackles...Added a pass breakup on fourth-and-goal at the IU 1-yard line. at Rutgers (11/19): Made three stops...Combined with Cam Brown on a fourth-quarter sack of Gio Rescigno...Aided the Nittany Lions in compiling nine tackles for loss, the eighth time in 2016 they recorded at least 9.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Michigan State (11/26): Made five tackles...Combined with Curtis Cothran for a tackle for loss in the fourth quarter.
➤ 2015 ➤ Sophomore Season
Season: Appeared in three games...Made his collegiate debut against Indiana (10/10)...Named Scout Team Co-Defensive Player of the Year with defensive tackle Ryan Monk...Earned Dean's List accolades in the 2015 fall and 2016 spring semesters..
Illinois (10/31): Made his first career tackle
➤ 2014 ➤ Redshirt Freshman Season
Did not see any game action...Earned Dean's List accolades in the 2015 spring semester.
➤ 2013 ➤ True Freshman Season
Redshirt season...Earned a perfect 4.0 GPA in the 2013 fall semester and Dean's List accolades in the 2014 spring semester.
➤ High School
A four-year letterman for head coach Jeremy Winn at Lewisburg High School...A standout at linebacker and running back for the Green Dragons...A three-time first-team Class AA all-state performer and a four-time All-Heartland athletics Conference honoree...Garnered first-team All-HAC during each of his final three seasons...Named Sunbury Daily Item Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year as a senior...Ran for 1,095 yards on 145 carries (7.6) and scored 19 rushing touchdowns, while also making 30 catches and scoring four touchdowns as a senior...Totaled 122 tackles, with six for loss, and grabbed two interceptions his final year...Recorded 135 tackles, three interceptions and 4.5 sacks as a junior...Earned eastern Pennsylvania Player of the Year following his junior campaign...As a sophomore, earned Williamsport Sun-Gazette Linebacker of the Year award after compiling more than 100 stops...A member of the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society and French National Honor Society...Also lettered in wrestling and track and field...Qualified for the PIAA State Championships in the javelin and 300 hurdles.
Full name is Brandon Hunter Smith...Son of Jeffrey and Deborah Smith...Has two brothers, Jared and Tyler, and one sister, Bethany...Married to wife, Andrea...Brother, Tyler, attended Penn State...Brother, Jared, played football for one season at Susquehanna University...Enjoys Bible study and fishing...Brought a 3.81 cumulative grade-point average into the summer semester...Graduated in December with a degree in kinesiology and is working on a second degree in health policy & administration...Would like to pursue a career as a pediatric oncologist...Born May 23, 1994 in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.