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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.) and senior linebacker Brandon Smith (Winfield, Pa.) were each selected as semifinalists for national awards Tuesday. McSorley is among 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Year Award, while Smith is among the 20 semifinalists for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year.
The Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award is presented annually to the nation’s best college quarterback and is the oldest and most prestigious national quarterback award. The Davey O’Brien Award honors candidates who exemplify Davey O’Brien’s enduring character while exhibiting teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership in both academics and athletics. Todd Blackledge (1982) and Kerry Collins (1994) are the Nittany Lions that have claimed the Davey O’Brien Award.
The Davey O’Brien Fan Vote counts as five percent during each round of the voting process, and is combined with the results from the Foundation’s national selection committee, which is comprised of journalists, broadcasters, commentators and former winners.After clearing the first round totals, the Fan Vote at VoteOBrien.org will reopen today and remain open until noon (CT) on Sunday, Nov. 19, for the second round of balloting. Fans are invited to cast their vote for the nation’s best college quarterback as often as once daily per email address.
The inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year, presented by Albertsons and Tom Thumb, will be the first college football honor to focus primarily on a player’s leadership, both on and off the field. Leadership is a term synonymous with Jason Witten, who, in addition to becoming one of the best tight ends in the history of the sport and the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver, has served as one of football’s most prominent role models during his 15-year pro career. In addition to winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2012, Witten has also received the Bart Starr Award, Pro Football Weekly’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP and the Bob Lilly Award, among many others. All of those honors have recognized his work in the community, achievements on the field and dedication to his teammates and family.
McSorley, who was previously selected as a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, leads the Big Ten and is in the top-20 in FBS in passing yards per game (272.4). He is second in the Big Ten and in the top-20 in FBS in total offense (306.3; 16th) and points responsible for per game (18.0; 11th). He is also third in the conference in passing touchdowns (19; 19th in FBS) and passing efficiency (149.6; 21st in FBS). McSorley is also dangerous on the ground, ranking fourth in the Big Ten with eight rushing touchdowns. He is the first quarterback in program history to having both a rushing and passing touchdown in four consecutive games. McSorley has thrown for a touchdown in 24 consecutive games, which is a school record and the second-longest active streak in FBS).
With four total touchdowns, including a quarterback school-record three rushing scores, against No. 19/15 Michigan, McSorley was selected as the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, Davey O’Brien Award National Quarterback of the Week and the Manning Award National Quarterback of the Week. He has seven 200-yard passing games on the season, including a trio of 300-yard outings. With 19 passing scores on the season, McSorley has upped his career passing touchdowns to 50, breaking Christian Hackenberg’s Penn State career record of 48 scores.
Smith, who was previously named to the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team, ranks ninth on the team with 27 tackles, including two tackles for loss, in nine games this season. Last year, Smith started the season as the third-string Mike linebacker but was thrust into starting in the third game of the season due to a series of injuries to the three opening day starting linebackers. Smith shined in his expanded role, ranking sixth on the team with 54 tackles and leading the squad with two interceptions. He also had three pass breakups and 4.0 tackles for loss. Smith was selected as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after posting 14 tackles in a win over Maryland. His interception and 22-yard return on the first defensive possession of the second half at Purdue sparked a 45-7 second-half surge by the Nittany Lions.
Smith graduated with a degree in kinesiology last December. He is working on a second degree in health policy and administration and owns a 3.81 GPA. He is a seven-time Dean’s List honoree and recorded a pair of 4.0 semesters during his academic career. In 2016, Smith was selected CoSIDA Academic All-District and was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recipient. The senior is also active in the community. In addition to the numerous community service activities that he does as part of the Nittany Lions, Smith helps with his wife’s non-profit organization, Honduran Soles, which provides shoes to kids that need them in various countries. He and his wife traveled to Honduras during spring break in 2015 helped build a soccer field. He and his wife have volunteered at homeless shelters, and done other community work through their church, Revival Tabernacle, in Watsontown, Pennsylvania, near his hometown.
The No. 13/16-ranked Nittany Lions host Rutgers Saturday at noon on Big Ten Network in a Homecoming and Military Appreciation matchup. The game can also be heard on GoPSUsports.com and the Penn State Sports Network.
Single-game tickets for the 2017 Penn State football season presented by PSECU are available for the two remaining home games (Rutgers, Nebraska). For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2018 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 from 9 a.m-4:30 p.m. More than 9,000 new season tickets have been sold and the season ticket allotment for 2017 has been exhausted.