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Penn State Football: Donovan Smith on Track to be Fixture at Left Tackle

by on June 26, 2012 6:00 AM

This may come as somewhat of a surprise, but Donovan Smith never really watched football until recently.

So forgive him if you mention the name Levi Brown and all you get in response is something along the lines of, “I’ve heard of him.”

“I knew who he was and everything, but I’ve barely been in touch with him,” Smith said at a recent on-campus Special Olympics event.

The two may want to connect soon. Because it won’t be far-fetched to think Smith could be Penn State’s best offensive tackle since Brown graduated in 2006 and became the No. 5 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Smith is the starting left tackle heading into August training camp, and with four years of eligibility remaining, is poised to become a rock at the position for head coach Bill O’Brien.

That’s hardly news. Various teammates have said Smith was ready to step in last season as a true freshman if need be.

Those seeds were sown during his recruitment by defensive line coach Larry Johnson and former offensive line coach Bill Kenney.

“They said I’m either gonna be a four-year starter or be able to play right away,” Smith said. “Quinn [Barham] had a pretty good season, so there was really no need for me to burn my redshirt.”

It took all of a month for the coaching staff to determine it needed Smith to protect the quarterback’s blind side. He started the spring season as a back-up at right tackle. Later, he overtook Mike Farrell for that position, and by the end of the spring swapped tackle position with Adam Gress.

Smith didn’t provide a reason for the switch to the left side.

“Donovan did really good during spring ball,” senior center Matt Stankiewitch said. “It was just a matter of time for him to show what he has and his abilities, and he showed that toward the end of spring ball and now he has the opportunity to play left tackle.”

Said Smith: “I thought I was gonna stay on the right side, but they moved me. It is what it is. Now O’Brien put his trust in me. I gotta live up to the expectations.”

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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