Smoker was very close to staying at home to play his college ball, but then learned that PSU was close to landing left handed phenom Chris Sims and decided to go to Michigan State.
As fate would have it, Paterno didn't get Sims, who instead surprisingly went to Texas either. That has coincided with Penn State's tailspin and Florida State's Bobby Bowden overtaking Paterno as the winningest coach in Division I-A.
"I like Jeff. I liked him when we talked to him, had him in camp and the whole bit. I tried to get him to make a commitment," said Paterno.
"We were going through that Chris Simms syndrome at that time where Chris had kind of indicated to us that, maybe, he was going to come to Penn State and we had not committed ourselves to anybody else. I said that I was not going to hang around one more year and that we were going to get two kids that say they are going to come. Jeff wouldn't do it, but he is a good kid and a good football player, a really good football player. I am delighted that things have worked out for him."
And while that whole scenario backfired, Paterno admits he still has good feelings about Smoker and the way he's developed as a quarterback and as a person.
"The things that we liked about Jeff when he was in high school and we were trying to recruit him were his mobility, his quick release and his competitiveness. He has got that. If you asked me, he is better than…than…than? I can't answer that because I think there are a couple of kids that we played against that are really underrated quarterbacks. Jeff is certainly right up there in the top echelon of quarterbacks that I have seen."
Then Paterno let his thoughts go public..... He wished that he had Smoker at the helm of his ball club.
"Maybe it is because I have been pulling for him, but he can do it all. He can run. If you horse around with him, he is going to run. He can throw the ball, pick out wide receivers. They spread everybody out and he is smart enough to identify which kid is going to have the least amount of coverage and does that. I wish we had him. I am not saying he is better than what we have because I am not sure about that, but I think he is really a good, good college quarterback and has a good future ahead of him."