With national signing day on the horizon on Feb. 6, what is Penn State football’s No. 1 recruiting priority?
While the Nittany Lions certainly have a few things to check off on their wish list, the first concern of recruiting throughout these sanctions is finding those cliché “diamonds in the rough.”
The obvious choice as the Nittany Lions’ top course of action is to make sure no one flakes in the waning days of recruitment.
However, the love for Penn State guys like Christian Hackenberg and other top-tier verbal commits have shown is overwhelming.
Sure, Bill O’Brien and his staff should continue to talk up Hackenberg, Brendan Mahon and Garrett Sickels, among others.
However, any one of those guys flipping from now until the day they put pen to paper is unlikely.
With that being said, the Lions’ coaching staff should be working like archaeologists, digging their way to find unearthed talent.
According to Ryan Snyder of BlueWhite Illustrated, the Lions’ coaching staff recently convinced FCS and low-end Division I-recruited players to come to Penn State as “run-ons,” including defensive back Tom Pancoast, athlete Chris Geiss, quarterback Jack Seymour and linebacker Brandon Smith.
While these types of players aren’t household names, they’re guys who give Penn State depth and untapped potential at a plethora of positions.
An article by ESPN.com’s Josh Moyer backs up the notion that O’Brien and company has made the walk-on program a point of emphasis.
In the article, O’Brien told ESPN:
Even before the sanctions came, I knew the run-on program was going to be vital to our success. So, when the sanctions came out, then obviously it became even more vital that we do a really good job with that.
In a realistic world, Penn State probably won’t get Christian Hackenberg- or Adam Breneman-type talent every year.
With the bowl ban hanging over the program’s figurative head for a few more years, it’s something that will no doubt deter a lot of sought-after recruits.
With this considered, it won’t be easy to convince highly touted talent to come to Penn State.
However, doing research, making calls and flexing their muscles in pipeline states, while broadening their search across the country will be a checklist for Penn State to bring in an array of talent.
And with a potpourri of walk-ons, O’Brien and his staff have more bodies to work with and more chances to develop future contributors to the program.