Jordan Smith spent this past summer training with Derrick Williams and NaVorro Bowman. He's known Stephon Morris for nearly a decade.
Jordan Smith will have a chance to learn from "big brother" Stephon Morris this coming semester.
Suffice it to say Smith will have a pretty good idea of what to expect when it comes to Penn State football when he arrives on campus early next month.
The defensive back prospect from Washington, D.C., already had strong ties to Penn State before he committed to the Nittany Lions on July 24 -- the day after the NCAA sanctions were handed down.
"I knew a lot about Penn State from growing up with those guys and seeing those guys develop, the decisions they made going into college," he said.
Smith, who will join Adam Breneman, Anthony Smith, Tyler Ferguson and Richy Anderson as Penn State's early enrollees this January, was the first player in the Nittany Lions' Class of 2013 to make his initial commitment after the sanctions.
"Really what it meant to me was a great opportunity for me to help a great coaching staff and a great college football program and help them develop and hopefully get more guys in," he said. "For me to commit, I wanted to help other people and have them know that just 'cause of what happened, Penn State didn't lose its name."
Smith's older brother, Stephen, played football with Williams at Eleanor Roosevelt High. His other brother, Chase, played youth basketball with Bowman. Smith played his high school football at Archbishop Carroll, but transferred from the school to H.D. Woodson High School this past February for financial reasons. That meant he couldn't play this past season, but Smith didn't want that to hinder his development.
"It was tough at first but as time went on, it kind of gave me a chance to hone in on my skills and work on my weaknesses," Smith said.
Helping Smith polish his game were Morris' father, Roman, and Troy Vincent, who run the defensive back training program, PrimeXample.
"His football IQ has gotten better," Roman Morris said. "He's gotten faster, more explosive. His short-area quickness has gotten better. His fundamentals and technique -- that part of the curve he's overall ready. He's technically very, very sound."
At 5-foot-10, 187 pounds, Smith projects as a cornerback. His best attribute, Roman Morris says, is the work ethic he inherited from Williams, Bowman and Stephon Morris, three former Nittany Lions who took their practice and offseason regimens very seriously.
"He's a worker," Roman Morris said. "He may not have the skill set of an (Adrian) Amos, but he's a worker. He's smooth. He transitions well. He's physical player. He's a great kid on special teams."
Smith had decided to enroll early when he discovered he could complete his core classes before the summer. His first semester at Penn State will be the last semester for Stephon Morris, who is graduating this spring and will be able to help introduce Smith to the college lifestyle as he trains for the NFL.
"Steph is like a big brother to me," Smith said. "Steph teaches me everything he knows. He's teaching me things about the game, how I should do certain things."
After a year away from competition, Smith is eager to get back on the field. He says he is most looking forward, though, to spending time with his new teammates and help the Class of 2013 have the sort of impact it is hoping to have on the program.
"We're coming in to help the team however we can," he said. "If that means special teams, we're gonna do it. If that means helping out another teammate in the classroom, we're gonna do it. Anyway we can help out our team to get a win, that's what this class is about."