A “Unique” Signing Day for Penn State
Wednesday is national signing day, arguably the most anticipated date on college football’s offseason calendar. It’s the first day that high school seniors can make their college decisions official by signing NCAA letters of intent. If you already pay attention to this stuff, you know that some fans follow recruiting as closely as they follow the games—and that “beating” a rival by corralling a higher-ranked class is treasured almost as highly as beating them on the field.
We know how thoroughly the 2012 team defied expectations; so far, it looks as if Penn State is doing the same in recruiting. The Lions won’t be able to compete with the likes of Alabama or Ohio State in this year’s national recruiting rankings, but by many other measures, the first class of the post-sanction era might already be considered a success. National recruiting analyst Mike Farrell of Rivals.com calls Penn State’s recruit efforts “amazing.” A few thoughts on the who, how, and why:
* It includes some gems. Highly touted recruits likes tight end Adam Breneman and QB Christian Hackenberg had offers from nearly every top program in the nation, but they stuck with decisions they made before the sanctions came down. Most of their future classmates did the same. This York Daily Record story breaks down how Penn State’s “unique” class came—and stayed—together. The YDR also has this sidebar with pertinent information on each committed player in the incoming class.
* Bill O’Brien and his staff are working their tails off. I’ve seen a bit of this first hand, and I’m not quite sure how he does it. Well, I have an idea—as I’ve written before, O’Brien is relentlessly organized, and does nothing without a detailed plan—but it’s still impressive to see the pace at which this guy works. Mike Poorman ’82 of StateCollege.com thoroughly breaks down O’Brien’s upcoming schedule in this piece, and to be honest, I bet even Mike missed a few things.
* A fresh approach. ESPN.com last week ran a really interesting piece on DJ Crook, one of the invited walk-ons—or “run-ons,” as O’Brien calls them—who in many cases are turning down scholarship offers from smaller programs to pay their own way and play at Penn State. It’s not hard to imagine some of these kids emerging as contributors, and crowd favorites, over the next few years. There’s also this, from PennLive.com, on how the Penn State coaches are spending more time looking beyond the Lions’ usual geographic recruiting base.
The intrigue of recruiting lies in wondering how these kids will turn out. Given the timing and the circumstances, few classes figure to be as intriguing as this one.
Ryan Jones, senior editor