In past years when Zach Bradshaw has pulled on his green and yellow Damascus football helmet, hes done so with the intent to make a difference offensively. His focus changed Wednesday.
Bradshaw orally committed to Penn State, where he will most likely suit up as an outside linebacker for the Nittany Lions.
Bradshaw, a rising senior at Damascus High School in Maryland, became the 13th member of Penn States most recent recruiting class when he called defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who in turn put Bradshaw on speaker phone so the rest of the Penn State coaching staff could hear Bradshaws good news.
It was real cool. I was just relieved to get it over with I guess, Bradshaw said. It was stressful. But I knew it was the right decision so getting to tell them was the moment that Ive been waiting for for awhile.
Bradshaw considered multiple offers but in the end decided on Penn State due to an array of factors.
A lot of things stood out about Penn State, Bradshaw said. I loved the campus. I loved how its all together all 40,000 students are in that small, little town. The facilities are amazing. There are like five practice fields. I have never seen that before in my life.
But Bradshaw had met one member of the Penn State coaching staff before.
During a recruiting visit to the University of South Carolina last year, Bradshaw met and developed a rapport with current Penn State strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald.
When Bradshaw visited Penn State, Fitzgerald was able to describe to Bradshaw his own experience deciding to move to Happy Valley to join Bill OBriens staff.
I liked coach Fitz a lot, Bradshaw said. I liked him when he was down (at South Carolina) and it was nice to hear what he had to say for why he switched and all that stuff. So that helped clear some stuff up.
Bradshaw, who is entering his senior year at Damascus High School, is the second linebacker to pick the Nittany Lions following Brandon Bells oral commitment two weeks ago.
While Bell projects as an inside linebacker and a run-stopping, downhill force, Bradshaw, who plays outside linebacker for Damascus, said he considers himself to be more of a coverage linebacker.
At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Bradshaw has a big enough frame but is nimble enough to run with receivers down the field. So far hes used his size effectively for the Hornets.
A two-way player, Bradshaw caught 35 passes for 466 yards and seven touchdowns and contributed 219 rushing yards and two scores on 25 carries during his junior season. On the other side of the ball Bradshaw helped a defensive corps surrender on average just over 13 points per win last season. The Hornets finished the 2011-12 season 9-3.
As far as my skills defensively, Im strong in pass coverage, Bradshaw said. So theyre going to play me ... out of the box a lot of the time so Ill be dropping back in pass coverage 75 percent of the time. Im more of a space player I would say.
With his senior season still to play, Bradshaw said he will focus on improving as a defensive player first and foremost now that hes settled on a collegiate destination.
Now that Im going to be playing linebacker in college Im going to focus more on reading quicker, reading pass, run, getting into my drops faster and just trying to become a better linebacker overall because Ive been more of an offensive minded player, Bradshaw said.
Smith granted ARD
Former Penn State wide receiver Devon Smith was accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program on Wednesday and will avoid punishment as long as he follows the provisions of the program.
Smith was arrested by university police in April on charges of possessing a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The charges stem from a March 14 incident at Nittany Apartments.
The program is designed to divert first-time offenders from entering the criminal justice system.
Smith's charges will be suspended as long as he follows court-ordered conditions such as drug and alcohol counseling and community service.
Smith, one of the Nittany Lions top big-play threats, caught 25 passes for 402 yards last season, but Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien announced Friday that Smith has left the program for personal reasons.
Smiths attorney, Ron McGlaughlin, couldnt be reached for comment.
Travis Johnson can be reached at 231-4629. Follow him on Twitter @traviswjohnson_