Central Pa. high school football star chooses Big Ten school, but it's not Penn State
After three seasons of wreaking havoc on Mid-Penn offensive lines and 16 Division I offers, Shippensburg defensive lineman Anthony Smith has his college home.
In a video posted to his Twitter Monday, Smith made his commitment official, announcing he'll be joining head coach P.J. Fleck and the Golden Gophers at the University of Minnesota next fall. Smith officially visited Minnesota June 11.
"The culture and the coaches were some of the biggest reasons," Smith said of his decision in a phone interview Monday. "But just everything they stand for ... It's so much bigger than football. I knew it was something I wanted to be part of and that I would be proud to be part of."
At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, the rising senior plays defensive end and tight end under Shippensburg head coach Eric Foust. However, from the start, it was obvious defensive end was Smith's calling.
In his junior campaign, which was shortened to seven regular-season contests due to the coronavirus pandemic, Smith notched 43 tackles, including 14 for loss, nine sacks and three forced fumbles. On the offensive side of the ball, Smith scored four touchdowns, hauling in one pass from quarterback Zack Manning and rushing for three on one and two-yard dives.
According to 247sports, Smith accumulated 15 other Division I offers, which included Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan. He currently ranks No. 15 among defensive ends in the state and No. 34 overall in the country, according to Rivals.com. He is a three-star recruit.
"There were definitely a few other schools I was considering," Smith said. "I appreciate all those schools giving me offers and giving me a chance to play, but I knew I wanted to be a Gopher."
Smith said it's been a lifelong dream to play college football. He said he wouldn't be where he is today without his family, coaches and the Shippensburg community.
"It's an out-of-this-world experience," Smith said. "It feels like yesterday I was a little kid watching football up on the big screen and was saying, 'I want to be one of them someday.' It's just so surreal.
"I just hope I can put Shippensburg on the map."