With Penn State limited to 15 scholarships for new recruits starting next year and continuing through 2016 as a result of NCAA sanctions that also include a post-season ban, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and his staff have their work cut out for them in attracting quality high school players.
But O’Brien, in a rare address on the subject Tuesday during his weekly teleconference, indicated that he’s pleased with the way recruiting has been going during the current season.
He said 40 to 50 high school prospects have visited Beaver Stadium during each of the team’s first three home games in September.
The Nittany Lions have had their share of recruiting losses since the sanctions were announced in July. They currently have 11 commitments for the freshman class of 2013 and are ranked ninth in the Big Ten by two recruiting web sites – Scout.com (where Penn State is 43rd overall) and Rivals.com (46th).
However, Penn State has more four and five-star recruits than most Big Ten teams ahead of it. The Lions are third in that category in Rivals and fourth in Scout. The top commitments thus far include tight end Adam Breneman of Cedar Cliff (Pa.) High School and quarterback Christian Hackenberg of Fork Union (Va.) Academy.
“When the sanctions happened, I know everybody said, ‘Uh-oh, here we go, what’s going to happen to Penn State?’” O’Brien said.
O’Brien then went into a recruiting pitch, talking about playing on national television in one of the nation’s largest stadiums, getting what he called “a fantastic degree” and the chance to practice in front of NFL scouts, who can attend practice at any time.
“Okay, the numbers are not equal to the other teams out there,” he said. “We understand that. As a staff we have to do a great job of understanding that. But at the end of the day, I’ve been very, very impressed with the fact that people really, really enjoy being recruited by us, coming to the games here.
“I’m talking about the prospects coming to the games here, watching us play, and being around these guys when they come down to the locker room after the game. So is it going to be hard? Yeah. Recruiting is hard. But at the end of the day, I think there’s a lot of good stuff.”