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Farrell Files: Jaxon Smolik Evaluation and a Duck for Penn State

Penn State is coming off a very good 2023 class, at least through the Early Signing Period, and are making waves in the transfer portal. Here’s the latest Farrell Files: PSU edition.

I’ll begin my breakdown of the 2023 class with the lost important position by far and a position James Franklin hasn’t been able to nail since he arrived — quarterback. Sure he got a bit lucky with Trace McSorley as most saw him as too small or even as a defensive back, but overall it hasn’t been pretty. In fact it’s been Sean Clifford. That’s it. But with the promise shown by Drew Allar there is excitement at the position again. I wish 2023 QB Jaxon Smolik excited me more.

Smolik is a solid quarterback don’t get me wrong but if I’m a Penn State fan I kinda want more. I want a Top 100 talent and a four star QB and want to win big quarterback battles. A QB recruiting win for a kid from Iowa that neither the Hawkeyes or Cyclones offered worries me a bit. I know Smolik had a solid Elite 11 and drew the interest from Notre Dame and others but this wasn’t a huge recruiting win. That being said, what are they getting? He’s a kid you will hear the following terms with — consistent, smart, heady — but he’s a project of sorts. He needs to add strength, as most QBs do, and his arm strength is average. All of that’s fine with good accuracy and he is an accurate QB but at times he can rush the ball or simply make a bad read. He’s solid with progressions and he can move a bit but he’s not a guy with the physical skills right now to take over games. Drew Allar has that and has for a long time. Smolik is kinda of Sean Clifford like — and that’s not exciting. I promise I’ll have good news as a break down each position in this class but this one just doesn’t wow me.

The Rose Bowl is the focus now as the 2023 class is mostly in place with 22 commitments in a Top 15 class (I have them No. 15 in my rankings) but let’s not overlook the addition of UNC transfer Storm Duck. This is huge.

Duck is a second team All-ACC performer from this past season at UNC and was one of the bright spots for a really bad defense. He can play outside or inside and brings a ton of experience to Penn State and will be huge for the Nittany Lions as either a starter or a flex when they go nickel. With Joey Porter gone, the experience Duck brings is crucial. Despite his accolades he’s not a lock to start with Kalen King a starter and Johnny Dixon and Daequan Hardy set to play big roles as well. Competition is crucial to programs at every position and Duck will make the CB room much deeper and also much more competitive.

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