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Penn State Lost a QB to Florida. Then it Flipped One From Tulane

Quarterback Jaxon Smolik dazzled at the Elite 11 Finals, earning a spot in Penn State's 2023 recruiting class.
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Jaxon Smolik, a 3-star quarterback from Iowa who committed to Tulane in June, has flipped to Penn State. Smolik announced his decision on social media.

Smolik represents an important commitment for Penn State, which needed a quarterback in this recruiting cycle. The Lions had a commitment from Florida 4-star quarterback Marcus Stokes, who then flipped to the Gators in July. That decision left Penn State in a potentially delicate spot with only three scholarships quarterbacks scheduled to return in 2023.

Smolik, who plays at Des Moines' Dowling Catholic, rose sharply up recruiting boards following his performance at the Elite 11 Finals in June. The 6-2, 200-pound quarterback was named one of the event's Elite 11, a grade that combines camp performance and junior-year play.

In fact, Sports Illustrated ranked Smolik as the No. 8 quarterback at the Elite 11 Finals, quite a rise for a "virtual unknown entering the camp."

Smolik was a late addition to the Elite 11 Finals, replacing Tennessee commit Nico Iamaleava, who played in a volleyball tournament. Smolik took advantage of the opportunity, producing a highlight-reel performance at the Elite 11 Finals that landed him on several Power 5 recruiting boards.

Penn State invited Smolik to a late-July camp in State College, where the quarterback earned a scholarship offer.

"I've always felt that I could compete at that level, but really nobody knew who I was until after the Elite 11," Smolik told Sports Illustrated's John Garcia, Jr. "It was super fun being out there and being able to compete with the nation's best. There was a lot of pressure on every quarterback's shoulders there, and they wanted you to be able to shine while under pressure."

(Watch Smolik's Elite 11 Pro Day performance above).

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Smolik will have a chance to impress Penn State's coaching staff further this year as the senior starter at Dowling Catholic. Smolik missed much of the 2021 season because of a broken collarbone he sustained in the opener. Smolik returned in the season's last month, leading Dowling Catholic into the state playoffs.

With Smolik on board, Penn State has 19 players committed to the 2023 recruiting class. That group can begin signing Letters of Intent on Dec. 21.

Jaxon Smolik Dowling Catholic

Jaxon Smolik, pictured at Dowling Catholic High in Des Moines, Iowa, has committed to Penn State's 2023 recruiting class.

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the network.