Penn State Football: Coach Bill O'Brien Is Working Magic as a Recruiter

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IDecember 12, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Head coach Bill O'Brien of the Penn State Nittany Lions walks off the field after defeating the Navy Midshipmen 34-7 at Beaver Stadium on September 15, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Who would have thought Penn State would have a top-25 recruiting class just a few months after the NCAA slammed the university with sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal?

Not only that, but recruits who previously decommitted from Penn State following the scandal are returning to the football program. 

Linebacker Zayd Issah became a part of Penn State's 2013 recruiting class again on Sunday, according to Fight On State. Per the Fight On State report, the 4-star recruit warmed back up to the Nittany Lions after visiting with head coach Bill O'Brien and his coaching staff. 

Oh yeah, and by the way, Issah chose Penn State over Oregon.

That's not all. Three other recruits committed to Penn State on Sunday: 3-star receiver DaeSean Hamilton, 2-star linebacker Jonathan Walton and prep-school defensive back Anthony Smith, who will enroll in January.

Smith's early enrollment is important. By enrolling in January, he counts toward the 2012 recruiting class, not the 2013 recruiting class. This is significant because of the scholarship limit placed on the football program by the NCAA (Penn State is allowed 15 scholarships in 2013).

In fact, three other players will enroll in January as well: 4-star tight end Adam Breneman, 3-star running back Richy Anderson and 3-star defensive back Jordan Smith.

Even top junior college quarterback Jake Waters is reportedly deciding between Penn State and Kansas State, according to ESPN.

What O'Brien is doing is remarkable. Penn State was supposed to have a black eye for a while, with limited recruiting opportunities due to the scandal. However, somehow, O'Brien has found ways to make Penn State a university top recruits want to go to.

He's said that having experience in the NFL (formerly an assistant coach with the New England Patriots) has helped him with the scholarship limits imposed on the school. After all, NFL teams have smaller rosters than NCAA rosters.

The hiring of O'Brien to take over at Penn State was controversial, particularly because the 43-year-old had never had any head coaching experience before, but it's hard to say the university made the wrong decision at this point.

O'Brien is certainly doing something right.


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