With a lot of the national signing day attention going to Ole Miss, Ohio State and Alabama, Penn State has been getting the job done in the background. It's nothing as flashy as the Rebels landing enough 5-star players to build a mini NFL team, but head coach Bill O'Brien is holding his own during the recruiting process and the Nittany Lions fans should be proud.
Although he has limited college football head coaching experience and has all of the odds stacked against him, O'Brien has somehow put together a class that sits just outside the Top 25, according to 247Sports.
Forget about Ole Miss for a second. This should be the recruiting story of the year.
It is easy to convince guys to play for a team that has shown potential in the SEC and is only a couple of seasons away from truly making a push towards a conference title. Try getting elite players to play in the watered-down Big Ten and being told that they won't be eligible for a bowl game or conference title for the next three seasons. Oh, and you have to do this all while being limited to only 15 lousy annual scholarships.
Well, that is what O'Brien is up against and he hasn't broken a sweat.
One of the top tight end prospects in Adam Breneman has already enrolled early at Penn State. Arguably the best quarterback prospect in the entire class has signed his letter of intent with Christian Hackenberg coming on board. And other solid pieces such as Garrett Sickels, Andrew Nelson and Brendan Mahon have all decided they would take their talents to Happy Valley.
Keep in mind, Hackenberg had offers from the big boys like Alabama, Stanford and Florida. Breneman could have easily gone to Michigan, Ohio State or Ole Miss like the rest of the college football recruits from this class. And every single other recruit that has committed to Penn State had offers from at least one other BCS program.
You know, a school that will be eligible to enjoy the postseason for years to come.
Ever since O'Brien set foot on the Penn State campus, he has added inspiration to a program that was on the verge of losing everything and eventually becoming irrelevant. After the Sandusky scandal, nearly everything except Beaver Stadium was blown up or removed from the record books.
Despite the horrible news during the offseason and losing many key players due to transfers, O'Brien and the Nittany Lions still finished with a remarkable 8-4 record. But with this recruiting class, it appears that his best work is still in front of him.
The current Nittany Lions head coach was recently in the rumor mill for NFL head coaching jobs and many thought he would leave due to the harsh sanctions the school received. However, he stayed true to his word and told pennlive.com, via ESPN, that he wasn't going anywhere: "I'm not a one-and-done guy. I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that's what I am going to do. I'm not gonna cut and run after one year, that's for sure."
Penn State had nothing to look forward to and could have easily fallen off the face of the earth in the eyes of many college football fans. The bowl ban and the scholarship reductions may remain intact, but O'Brien has brought hope and inspiration to the program, and has shown that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Nittany Lions class isn't filled with numerous 5-star players and won't receive much attention, but it is by far one of the best stories of the 2013 recruiting process.
Penn State remains in good hands with O'Brien leading the way.
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