UNI’s Smith accepts invitation to Senior Bowl

Northern Iowa’s Elerson G. Smith tries to run down San Diego quarterback Reid Sinnett during Saturday’s playoff game in the UNI-Dome.

MOBILE, Ala. – Northern Iowa defensive end Elerson G. Smith has accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 30 in 2021.

Smith joins Panther teammate, offenisve tackle Spencer Brown, with an invitation to the game. UNI is one of two schools, the other being Michigan, with two accepted senior bowl invites.

Smith was the Phil Steele FCS Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and earned Preseason First-Team All-American honors from Stats Perform. He was a First-Team All-MVFC honoree last season and was named AFCA First-Team All-American after picking up 14 sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, 21.5 tackles for loss and 63 total tackles.

He is the 10th Panther to accept a senior bowl invite, the most prestigious of the senior all-Star games. UNI players have a habit of using senior all-star games to improve their draft stock. David Johnson used the senior bowl to improve his draft stock in 2015. Daurice Fountain won MVP honors at the 2018 East-West Shrine Game.

Smith is currently in Minneapolis training to get ready for the senior bowl and the rest of the draft process.

PANTHER VERBAL: UNI picked up a commitment from Mason City kicker Eric Lensing Friday.

“First of all, I would like to thank God for giving me an opportunity to play football at the next level,” Lensing said in a Twitter post. “I would also like to thank all of the prestigious universities that have been interested in me.

“I have been talking with my family and my mentors about what would be the best decision for my future. With that being said, I will be committing to the University of Northern Iowa to continue my academic and athletic career! Thank you to Coach (Mark) Farley and Coach (D.J.) Vokolek for giving me an amazing opportunity to chase my dream.”

Lensing was regarded as one of the state’s top kickers and punters this season. His 44 yard field goal in the Mohawks’ Sept. 18 home opener against Boone was the second longest field goal of any kicker in Class 3A this season, and his 41.2 yards per punt average was the eighth-best mark in 3A.