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Penn State Football All 105

Penn State All 105: After High School Football Odyssey, Jaxon Smolik has Arrived in Happy Valley

Photo courtesy of Penn State Athletics: Jaxon Smolik

All 105 is a Nittany Sorts Now Series profiling each Penn State football player. In this edition, we will be profiling freshman QB Jaxon Smolik.

Height: 6-foot-1 

Weight: 205 pounds

Hometown: Van Meter, Iowa

Before Penn State: Smolik is perhaps the best story in Penn State’s 2023 recruiting class. When Florida prospect Marcus Stokes committed to Penn State last April, it looked like the school had its ‘23 QB. But then, things changed. Stokes flipped to Florida in July, and Smolik was one of the top performers at the previous month’s Elite 11 showcase. With Penn State and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich suddenly on the hunt for a QB, Smolik— who missed most of his junior season with an injury— became a person of interest. Smolik had been committed to Tulane, but de-committed in August and announced his commitment to Penn State the next day. After a successful senior season that ended with a trip to the state semifinals, the three-star from Iowa’s Dowling Catholic High School signed with Penn State in December.

Where he stands: Penn State’s projected starter, Drew Allar, is expected by many to be the next big thing. The projected QB2, Beau Pribula, was a high-end three-star signee from York, Pennsylvania, and already has a year+ of experience at Penn State and in Yurcich’s offense. So it seems more likely that Smolik will redshirt his first season than anything else.

A quote by Smolik: “I feel like I fit in really well with their offense,” Smolik said. “I talked to (Yurcich) a lot, and it’s kind of like the same kind of reads we run, just not the exact same plays. I feel like I fit in really well when I get there and (will) be able to run the offense and get the practice reps.” — Smolik in an interview with Nittany Sports Now last August not long after his commitment.

A quote about Smolik: “I think Smolik, again, if you just kind of look at his story. Gets invited to the Elite 11 at the last minute. There’s no hesitation. There’s no hurt feelings that he’s getting called at the last minute. Jumps on a plane at the last minute, gets out there and competes and does really well, is hurt his junior year, so there’s not a lot of evidence and film out there on him, and then he comes to our camp and earns a scholarship. God forbid that’s how this happens anymore. Most guys don’t go through the process that way. But (Smolik) came to camp, earned the scholarship, did a lot of things really well. Great family, and we’re excited about him. We’re really excited about him. I thought he had a really good senior year, has a lot of the traits and intangibles that we look for. He’ll be here during the spring, so we’ll have a chance to evaluate him. Plus, I went and watched him play. It was a bitter, cold day in Iowa. It was raining, and watching him throw the ball in warmups on the sideline, it didn’t even phase him. Has massive hands. He just has a lot of traits that you look for at that position. So we’re looking forward to working with him and helping him develop.” — coach James Franklin on Smolik at his post-early signing day presser last December.

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