For the first time in the James Franklin era, "Linebacker U" landed a five-star stud.
Highly-touted linebacker Brandon Smith committed to Penn State Monday afternoon, becoming the fourth player in the last five days to join the Nittany Lions' growing 2019 class. Connecticut defensive back Tyler Rudolph committed shortly after Smith, making that number five in the last five.
Smith — the No. 30 player in the country, per 247 Sports — is the second-highest defensive recruit Franklin has captured in his Penn State tenure, behind only Micah Parsons. The Harrisburg product, a five-star recruit in 2017, played defensive end in high school before moving to linebacker this spring.
Smith is the No. 2 inside linebacker in the nation and the top player in Virginia. On Friday, the Nittany Lions landed the second-best player in the state — running back Devyn Ford.
Like Ford, Smith had a plethora of options to choose from. The 6-foot-4, 223-pounder had offers from 29 programs, including Ohio State, Texas A&M, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Michigan.
Smith — who tallied 117 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and six sacks last year at Louisa County High School — is the fifth five-star prospect of the Franklin era. Parsons, running back Ricky Slade and wideout Justin Shorter committed last cycle, while Miles Sanders signed in 2016.
Since arriving in 2014, Franklin has secured signatures from 10 linebackers — five four-star and five three-star prospects. But never a five-star.
Smith changes that — and he should provide a boost to Brent Pry's unit in 2019.