IT IS different with quarterbacks. If one widely recruited high school quarterback commits to a particular college, another hotshot passer could decide to eliminate that school from his list of possible destinations. Only one QB can play at a time and nobody wants to be second or third on the depth chart if he has a better chance to be on the field taking snaps somewhere else.
Linebackers, though, are clusterers by nature, somehow more secure in the knowledge that in numbers there is strength.
It was that way several years ago at Penn State when Paul Posluszny, Tim Shaw and Dan Connor looked at one another and decided that although they had a chance to be successful as individuals, they had an even better chance to become something special collectively.
Posluszny and Shaw, who spent the 2006 season misplaced at defensive end, are looking forward to the April 28-29 NFL draft while Connor, a second-team All-America, will return for his senior year in Happy Valley alongside fellow starter Sean Lee, a rising star who will be a junior. But the contribution they made as a group has burnished Penn State's reputation as "Linebacker U," a virtual birthing place of All-America players at that signature position.
Chris Colasanti, Nathan Stupar and Andrew Dailey, all of whom are rated as four-star prospects by national recruiting services, want to leave the same sort of imprint by the time their careers as Nittany Lions conclude.
"Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor, Sean Lee, Tim Shaw . . . they're all my idols," said Colasanti, the 6-2, 230-pound middle linebacker from Brother Rice High in Lakeville, Mich. "It's amazing to me to see how they move, how they react, how they use their hands, how they tackle.
"I don't know Andrew as well as I know Nate, but I believe we'll have that kind of bond ourselves."
Stupar, the State College Area High standout whose home is less than a 10-minute drive from Beaver Stadium, also envisions a day when he, Colasanti and Dailey will take their places alongside the Nittany Lions' great linebackers.
"I believe it's going to happen," the 6-3, 230-pound Stupar said. "Of course, it's going to take a lot of work from all three of us, getting used to each other and helping each other out. But if we all believe it can happen, it will happen. We can be one heck of a crew of linebackers."
Unlike 2006, when Penn State had a recruiting class many services rated among the top 10 nationally, this year's group might not be as highly regarded because it is more need-based. Penn State was looking for linemen, both offensive and defensive, so its recruiters loaded up more than usual on big, beefy bodies.
There also isn't that sexy quarterback everyone was after, which is by design. Although senior starter Anthony Morelli is entering his final season, five other quarterbacks on the roster have at least 2 years of eligibility, including redshirt freshman Pat Devlin, the former Downingtown East standout who holds Pennsylvania's career passing record with 9,109 yards.
With Posluszny, two-time winner of the Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player, and Shaw departing, however, there was a bit of a need - OK, maybe not an immediate one - for the next generation of linebacking stars to get in line.
Colasanti, Stupar and Dailey, all aware of one another because of the pervasiveness of the Internet and the glut of recruiting services that have sprung up in recent years, were ready to answer the call.
"Stupar and Colasanti are great athletes and great linebackers," said Dailey, a 6-3, 215-pounder from Massillon, Ohio. "I really can't wait until I get on the field with them. We all make big plays. I think we can follow up on what Posluszny, Connor and Lee have done."
Colasanti was the first to verbally commit, last spring.
"I knew Penn State also was offering [grants-in-aid to] Nate and to Andrew Dailey, but that didn't dictate my decision," Colasanti said. "I chose Penn State because it felt like home. I fell in love with the campus, with the approach coach [Ron] Vanderlinden [linebackers] and coach [Tom] Bradley [defensive coordinator] have to defense."
Stupar, who also considered Virginia and West Virginia, came aboard next.
"One day it just dawned upon me that I wanted to go to Penn State," he said. "I talked it over with my parents and they said, 'Are you sure?' I was. I'm the type of person that, once I make a decision, I stick with it 100 percent."
Dailey, whose other finalists were Florida, Nebraska and Notre Dame, also said there were multiple factors that went into his decision.
"I loved the coaching staff and the area," he said. "There was more to it than just the 'Linebacker U' thing. That was a part of it, sure, but I felt like I was with family when I was there.
"I'm very excited about possibly being a part of Big Ten championship teams, maybe even national championship teams, over the next few seasons. There is a lot of talent coming back, and a lot of talent coming in."
Colasanti, Stupar and Dailey all made their official recruiting visits on the same day, Jan. 19, which only served to affirm their belief that they belonged together.
"We all hung out," Stupar said. "Andrew Dailey was hosted by Dan Connor, I was hosted by Sean Lee and Chris Colasanti was hosted by Anthony Scirrotto. Sean and Anthony are roommates, so Chris and I spent a lot of time together. We developed a relationship."