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Penn State Football: Donovan Smith Declares For NFL Draft

by on December 29, 2014 2:05 PM

Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith announced his decision on Monday to forgo his final year of college eligibility.

He will enter the 2015 National Football League Draft. The redshirt junior started 31 games at left tackle over the past three seasons.

Smith graduated with a degree in criminology earlier this month.

“It seems like it was yesterday that I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with the greatest college football coach in history, Joseph Vincent Paterno,” Smith stated in a news release. 

“I promised him and my family that I would get my degree. After achieving one of my life goals of receiving a degree from The Pennsylvania State University, I feel it's time to continue the pursuit of my dream of becoming a NFL player. The past four years have been a physical and emotional roller coaster, but have ultimately made me a better man." 

“Thank you to my family, all of my teammates, coaches and the best fan base in college football for the best four years of my life. I am eternally grateful to you all. WE ARE!!!!”

“We want to thank Donovan and wish him all the best at the next level,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said. “We appreciate his contributions to the program and his dedication to earning his degree this semester, doing so in three-and-a-half years.”

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With his 31 starts, Smith ranked second on the team in starts on the 2014 squad.

Heading into next season Penn State will return three offensive line starters in center Angelo Mangiro, guard Brian Gaia and tackle Andrew Nelson. Three other returning offensive linemen – Derek Dowrey, Wendy Laurent and Brendan Mahon - started games this season and the Nittany Lions will welcome offensive tackles and recent signees Paris Palmer and Sterling Jenkins in January.

Penn State returns 17 starters (8 offense, 8 defense, 1 specialist) for the 2015 season. The Blue-White Game is Saturday, April 18 at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions open the 2015 season on Saturday, Sept. 5 vs. Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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