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Penn State Featured Again on 'The Freaks List'

Bruce Feldman's annual look at college football's most athletic 'freaks' includes two current Lions and one alum.

"The Freaks List," Bruce Feldman's annual deep dive into crazy squat totals and shuttle times, unveiled its 2021 college football players to watch at The Athletic. Three Penn Staters (two current, one former) made the list.

Linebacker Brandon Smith (No. 32) and safety Jaquan Brisker (No. 76) are natural fits for "The Freaks List," which highlights college football's most athletic players. Brisker is a repeat honoree, while Smith joins the list for the first time.

In addition, former Penn State defensive Shane Simmons checks in at No. 100, an interesting selection for a unique player. Simmons was among the Lions' most gifted defensive players the past few years, but injuries stunted his career. Simmons intended to retire from football after last season but had a change of heart and transferred to Marshall in May.

Smith and Brisker will be two cornerstone players of Penn State's defense in 2021. Brisker is a preseason nominee for several national awards, including Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski as the top defensive player. Smith is a nominee for the Butkus Award as the best linebacker.

Brisker, who joined Jahan Dotson and Tariq Castro-Fields in returning for the 2021 season, could be one of the nation's top safeties. The senior, a PFF first-team All-American last year, also tests exceptionally well. He led Penn State's safeties in pro-agility time (4.07 seconds), broad jump (10 feet), triple broad jump (32-5) and power clean (315 pounds).

Penn State shifted Smith from its Sam outside linebacker position to the Will, which Micah Parsons played in 2019. Smith will spend more time closer to the line of scrimmage rather than in coverage, which fits his playing style. As for his winter testing numbers, Smith led the linebackers in pro agility (4.25 seconds), vertical jump (36 inches), broad jump (10-5) and triple broad jump (32-4).

Penn State began training camp Aug. 6 and opens the 2021 season Sept. 4 at Wisconsin.

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