Three Nittany Lions selected in NFL Draft

May 07, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Penn State tackle Donovan Smith (Owings Mills, Md.) in the second round of the 2015 National Football League Draft Friday evening. Joining Smith among drafted players, the Chicago Bears selected Penn State safety Adrian Amos (Baltimore, Md.) and the Pittsburgh Steelers picked Jesse James (Glasswort) in the fifth round on Saturday.

Smith was the No. 34 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft and second pick of the second round. Smith is the 37th Penn State football student-athlete to be drafted since 2006, including 17 in the first three rounds. 

A native of Owings Mills, Maryland, Smith is the first Penn State tackle to be drafted since Levi Brown was the fifth overall pick of the 2007 Draft. Smith is also the highest Nittany Lion drafted since Jared Odrick went 28th overall in the 2010 Draft to the Miami Dolphins.

"We are thrilled for Donovan to make this next step in his football career after graduating from Penn State in just three and a half years," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "He is very athletic and has great footwork for a guy his size. There are only so many guys out there that can be a true left tackles and protect the quarterback's blindside and he is one of them."

"Donovan has the talent and tangibles to play in the National Football League for many years," Offensive Line Coach Herb Hand said. "His combination of size and athleticism are rare. Donovan has the athletic ability to play either tackle and also possesses the girth and power to play on the interior."

Smith started 31 of his 37 career games played, which was tied for second-highest on the 2014 squad. He participated in the Senior Bowl alongside teammates Adrian Amos and Deion Barnes. Smith blocked for the two of the top three quarterbacks in career yardage in program history in Matt McGloin (6,385) and Christian Hackenberg (5,932). He also helped pave the way for 19 100-yard rushing performances.

A pre-season candidate for the Outland Trophy, Smith concluded his career by helping the Nittany Lions rally from a 21-7 third quarter deficit to beat Boston College, 31-30 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. He helped Penn State gain 453 yards and 25 first downs in the overtime win over Eagles, also boosting Hackenberg to break or tie nine school bowl records.

A U.S. Army All-American at Owings Mills High School, the 6-5, 340-pound Smith graduated with his degree in criminology in December. Amos was the No. 142 overall selection and James was the No. 160 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Since 2006, Penn State has had 39 student-athlete drafted, including 17 in the first three rounds.

Penn State has had at least three NFL Draft picks 17 times since starting Big Ten Conference competition in 1993. A total of 338 Nittany Lions have been selected all-time in the NFL Draft, including 36 in the first round.

Amos is the first Penn State safety to be drafted since Justin King went to the Rams in the fourth round of the 2008 Draft. Amos is the eighth Penn State player drafted by Chicago and is the first Penn State selected by the Bears since guard Tyler Reed in the sixth round of the 2006 Draft. Amos will join kicker Robbie Gould on the Bears roster.

James is the first Penn State tight end to be drafted since Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler were picked in the 2010 Draft. James is the 25th Penn State player drafted by Pittsburgh, tied for the most among NFL teams. He is the first Penn State selection by the Steelers since A.Q. Shipley was picked in the seventh round of the 2009 Draft.

"After graduating with his degree and now hearing his name called in the NFL Draft, I could not be happier for Adrian," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "He has quick feet and great ball skills that will help him on the next level. Adrian is a versatile defensive back that has worked really hard and will be a great addition to the Bears' secondary."

"I am truly happy for Jesse," Franklin said. "He has tremendous speed and skills for a guy his size; he is a just freak athlete. Jesse has the ability to be a tremendous offensive weapon for the Steelers. As he continues to work on his game at this next level, he has the potential to grow into a complete tight end."

Amos was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection as a senior after recording 42 tackles (30 solo) and tying for the team lead with three interceptions. His play earned him a spot in the 2015 Reese's Senior Bowl. For his career, Amos made a team-high 38 starts, including the last 37 games. A starter at safety and cornerback the past three seasons, he was second on the team with seven pass break-ups and had 10 passes defended.

The Baltimore native grabbed his first interception of the season and fifth of his career in the first quarter in the 13-10 win at Rutgers. He had at least one interception each of his four seasons at Penn State. Amos collected seven stops, including three solo tackles, in the double overtime game against No. 13 Ohio State, helping hold the Buckeyes to 256 yards and 17 points in regulation. He had four solo tackles and three pass break-ups for a defense that limited Indiana to just 68 passing yards in the win at Bloomington. Amos wrapped up his career by making seven tackles (six solo) in the comeback win over Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Amos graduated in three and a half years in December.

A true junior, James holds the Penn State record for career touchdowns by a tight end with 11, breaking a tie with College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ted Kwalick against Maryland last November. Named to the Mid-season Mackey Award Watch List, James was third on the squad last season with 38 receptions for 396 yards (10.4), leading the Nittany Lions with three touchdown catches. He increased his number of catches each year by at least 10 the last two seasons, making 15 catches in 2012, 25 in 2013 and 38 in 2014.

James made at least one catch in each of his final collegiate 18 games, including three catches for 27 yards in Penn State's 31-30 overtime win over Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. He made one of the critical plays of the game when he bulled his way to a 17-yard catch on 3rd-and-15 to give the Nittany Lions a first down in overtime. The 6-7, 271-pound James made a career-high seven catches for 60 yards in the season opening win over UCF in Dublin, Ireland.

A standout at South Allegheny High School, James was named an honorable mention Freshman All-American as a true freshman in 2012. His 31 career starts were tied for second-highest on the squad. James served as director of marketing for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter, helping the Nittany Lions raise a record total of $151,990 during 2013-14 for the Kidney Cancer Association to push the team's total past $1 million over the 11 years of the Penn State Lift For Life.

There were 28 former Nittany Lions with NFL teams during the 2014 season, again placing Penn State in the top 20 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players. Penn State was ranked No. 2 among Big Ten teams in players on 2014 NFL rosters.

For the 44th time in the Super Bowl's 49-game history, at least one Penn State alumnus was a member of one of the participating teams (18 times in last 20 years). Thirty-seven former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 54 Super Bowl rings, most recently Jordan Hill and since-retired running back Michael Robinson with Seattle last year. A total of 105 Nittany Lions have been on Super Bowl rosters.

The Nittany Lions open the 2015 campaign on the road against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Saturday, September 5.

Season tickets for the 2015 campaign are on sale, with nearly 3,000 new season tickets having been sold. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2015 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.

Last Updated May 07, 2015