Penn State coach Bill O'Brien dives into recruiting
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All summer, the Penn State players and staff expressed restlessness as they waited for the season to start. And then the games went by just like that. What's in store for Penn State during the first weeks of the offseason?
Bill O'Brien likes to say he never takes time off. During the open week, he celebrated because he was able to take his wife out for dinner that Saturday night. He works often and his schedule isn't changing much because the season has ended.
After the Wisconsin game, O'Brien said he planned to dive fully into recruiting this week, leaving town to recruit today, Thursday and Friday.
Right now, Penn State has 13 verbal commitments for the class of 2013 (three defensive backs, three defensive ends, three offensive linemen, a linebacker, a running back, a tight end and a quarterback). Per NCAA restrictions, it can only grant 15 new players scholarships each year for the next four years.
Expect a junior college quarterback to fit into the mix, probably as a walk-on. As of now, Penn State has one quarterback, Steven Bench, available for spring practice.
From now until the start of next season, any Penn State player can transfer to another school without sitting out for a year. But the "free agency without the rules" that O'Brien described over the summer will not be as extreme. Last summer, as long as an interested school first contacted Penn State, their coaches could call players and visit off-campus as they pleased.
According to an NCAA representative, schools now must abide by the recruiting calendar when contacting Penn State players, meaning their contact will be more limited than it was this summer.
Several players, including the entirety of the self-proclaimed "Supa Six" (sophomores Bill Belton, Adrian Amos and Allen Robinson and redshirt freshmen Deion Barnes, Kyle Carter and Donovan Smith) have pledged to stay.
Senior cornerback Stephon Morris said he heard "whispers" about players wanting to leave after this season during the 0-2 start and after the Ohio State loss but said they had faded away.
"I talked to those guys ... and was like, 'look it would be stupid if you were to leave here,' " he said. " 'Where would you want to go?' "
Still, any wavering player has eight months to make up his mind.
Seniors such as linebacker Gerald Hodges and defensive tackle Jordan Hill will likely command serious attention in the NFL draft. They have been projected as possible third-round picks by draft analysts. Linebacker Michael Mauti was projected as a draft pick until his knee injury. He said after Saturday's game that he still did not want to discuss its severity.
Other seniors with weaker draft prospects have expressed interest on trying to start a career in the NFL, including quarterback Matt McGloin, offensive tackle Mike Farrell and center Matt Stankiewitch.
O'Brien said he would conduct "exit interviews" with the departing players as well as meet with the returning players individually to discuss this season.
First Published November 28, 2012 12:00 am