Sterling Jenkins visited Penn State for a game against Michigan in 2013. Both teams were high on his list of colleges.
"In the end, I remember I found myself secretly wishing Penn State would win," Jenkins said.
Seven months after that game, Penn State won the recruiting battle for Jenkins.
Jenkins, a 6-foot-8, 315-pound junior offensive tackle at Baldwin High School, announced Tuesday on KDKA-TV that he would attend Penn State. Ohio State was his other top choice, but he also seriously considered Michigan.
Jenkins is the most highly rated player in the WPIAL Class of 2015. Rivals.com ranks him the No. 34 player overall and the No. 6 offensive tackle. He had scholarship offers from many Division I schools, but his choice of Penn State was no surprise. He favored the Nittany Lions for months.
"I really go back to that Penn State-Michigan game when I came to the realization that everything came together for me about Penn State," Jenkins said. "That's when I saw how dedicated the fans are up there. I mean I enjoyed Ohio State and Michigan when I visited there, but it was apparent which one I preferred most."
Jenkins liked Penn State when Bill O'Brien was the Nittany Lions coach, and his feelings didn't change when James Franklin became coach. Franklin was the first head coach to visit Jenkins at Baldwin. Former Gateway High School coach Terry Smith, a Penn State assistant, recruited Jenkins.
Despite Jenkins' NFL size and national ratings, the coaches in the WPIAL's Southeastern Conference didn't think enough of him to vote him first-team all-conference in 2013. Jenkins acknowledges he has plenty of room to improve.
"Something with linemen is a mentality," Jenkins said. "Some people are born with it and some aren't. I don't think I was. I didn't grow up in a sports environment. That wasn't in my culture. I was more of a game-and-computer type. Even when I started playing football, it took me a while to get a football mindset."
QB picks Penn State
Jersey City, N.J., quarterback Brandon Wimbush committed to Penn State in an announcement streamed on Bleacher Report. Wimbush (6-2 and 208), is a consensus four-star recruit. He chose Penn State over Ohio State, Boston College and Miami.
Mark Dent contributed to this report.