Devon Smith: Transfer to Marshall Example of How PSU Sanctions Impact Careers
Wide receiver Devon Smith’s transfer to Marshall is the latest case study to the consequences of the Penn State saga.
According to ESPN.com, Smith has been cleared to play at Marshall for the upcoming season and will no longer be a member of the Penn State football team. Rather than hearing fans chant “We Are Penn State” in Happy Valley, Smith will hear the famed words “We Are Marshall” in West Virginia. Fans in Huntington are undoubtedly excited about the arrival of his sub-4.3 40-yard dash time.
“Devon is a great young guy, has tremendous talent and is one of the fastest players in the country,” said Marshall coach Doc Holliday. “He is a member of the Marshall family now and we’re excited about it.”
Smith, who was the same player to have accidentally run into Joe Paterno at practice and place him in the hospital with an injured shoulder and hip in 2011, was reported to have been dismissed from the team nearly two months ago, according to pennstate.247sports.com. This news came following the reported drug raid that took place at Smith’s house.
At the time, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien seemed to have denied the report.
"I'm going to let the legal process play out a little bit," said O'Brien. "There's two sides to every story, and I stand behind Devon Smith. At the end of the day, we'll see what happens. If I have to make a disciplinary decision with Devon Smith, I'll keep it between Devon and I."
When ESPN first reported his leave on June 22nd, Smith said that he was leaving for “personal reasons” and did not mention any upcoming sanctions or a dismissal from the team.
Smith is only 5’7” and 147 pounds, but played in every game for Penn State last season. He caught 25 passes for 402 yards. Smith joins cornerback Derrick Thomas as the second player to have transferred from Penn State to Marshall for the upcoming season. Like Smith, Thomas left the program a month before Penn State received news of its extreme sanctions.
Both players will be eligible to play for the upcoming season because Penn State is otherwise ineligible for postseason play. Other players who have also chosen to leave Penn State in the past month include former roommates star running back Silas Redd (USC) and wide receiver Justin Brown (Oklahoma).
Brown admitted that he had been receiving death threats via Twitter since the announcement of his transfer. He joins kicker Anthony Fera (Texas) with word that he still plans to earn his degree from Penn State University. Fera and Redd were the two top scorers at Penn State last season, combining for 104 of the 251 points totaled by the Nittany Lions last season.
“Those kids didn’t ask to be in this situation, and it’s just a no-win situation for everyone that’s involved,” said Oklahoma receivers coach Jay Norvell. “They just tried to make the best out of the situation. Justin was a kid we reached out to because we felt like we needed a mature, experienced receiver that’s played, and he was interested in the opportunity here.”
The projected starter had missed time in the spring while recovering from a foot injury.
Of course, it’s worth remembering that Smith will also be dealing with alleged marijuana charges from an incident on March 14th related to a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Smith comes into his time at Marshall with one year of eligibility left as well as the option for a redshirt season.
This is an interesting case study for the former Penn State football player who is able to transfer freely, despite the marijuana charges, and play within the first game of the season if Marshall so chooses to put him on its starting roster. The speedy wide receiver is certainly considered to be a favorite to earn a starting role for the upcoming season.
Penn State had a remarkable impact on Smith’s career.
There is no doubt in my mind that what he continues to do at Marshall will be judged by the standards of Penn State and what happened while he was in college there at the historical time to be a Nittany Lion.
The young athlete from Maryland will enter a long journey towards redemption and redefining the fate of his career. Those who are familiar with Smith certainly believe that this is more than possible as he enters the end of summer camp.
Marshall opens its season against West Virginia on the road on September 1st.
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