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QB Jaxon Smolik is standing out during fall camp for the Penn State football team

Jaxon Smolik has been the surprise of fall camp according to James Franklin.



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Penn State football head coach James Franklin smiles as he answers a question from a member of the media during football media day at Beaver Stadium on Sunday, August 6, 2023, in State College.

As the season inches closer for the Penn State football team, more information becomes available on the 2023 Nittany Lions. Even more of that was exposed to the public on Sunday during the Penn State football media availability. A lot of the updates that were provided by the coaching staff were to be expected; however, there was one update that is great to hear about now and for stability in the future. As true freshman quarterback, Jaxon Smolik was named the biggest surprise of fall camp by James Franklin.

Freshman QB is standing out during the Penn State football fall camp

When QB Christian Veilleux entered the transfer portal at the end of last season, depth at the quarterback position suddenly became a glaring concern. With Drew Allar as the lone QB on the roster with any meaningful playing time under his belt, many in the Penn State community wondered if the Nittany Lions would bring in a transfer portal addition themselves to add additional depth. But after the media availability on Sunday, it’s clear that Drew Allar, Beau Pribulia, and Jaxon Smolik have enough talent where depth is not an area of concern moving forward.

Jaxon Smolik was a three-star prospect in the 2023 recruiting class and stood out when he competed at the Elite 11 Finals last year. A one-time Tulane Green Wave commit, Smolik flipped to Penn State in April of 2022 and has never looked back. He enrolled early at Penn State this past January and did not receive many reps during the Blue-White game. Part of that was because Drew Allar and Beau Pribula are competing for the QB1 role. But either way, it was difficult to tell just how well Smolik was doing or if he would need the entire 2023 season to gain comfort in the system.

When asked about the QB room Coach Franklin said “I’d say Smolik has been the surprise of camp so far, specifically in the quarterback room.” This is great news considering that all three scholarship quarterbacks need to be prepared to play at any moment this season.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich shares his insight on Jaxon Smolik

It’s one thing for James Franklin to be pleased with the progress of a young QB, but for offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich to be pleased with Jaxon’s progress that says a lot about how skilled Smolik is. When Yurcich spoke to the media about freshman QB Jaxon Smolik he said “We have to get him better at spitting the information out and speaking how we speak and to be honest and have the command in the room and being able to have just a better recall and articulate better in meetings” Yurcich said.”But then when he hits the field, he’s a lot better. So it’s just a matter of time and repping that stuff out and that’s our job as coaches to bring him up to speed and, I’m really tickled pink from where he’s at right now.”

Even if Smolik does not make an impact during the 2023 season, he can absorb the meetings and prepare well. Then, going into next season it will be interesting to see where he is at. It will also benefit 2024 Penn State QB commit Ethan Grunkemeyer to be able to lean on Smolik to help ease his transition to college football.

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Former Editor-In-Chief at Victory Bell Rings, Morgan is the current Site Manager for Basic Blues Nation, host of the Basic Blues Podcast, and co-host of the weekly Penn State Roar Room spaces. Morgan lives in upstate New York with his wife and cats.


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