Recruiting Roundup (Updated): 2014 Class Talks About the Future

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The 2012-13 Penn State football recruiting class was applauded for its courage and commitment to the university in the face of the NCAA’s sanctions against the school. The class, which was led by Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman, helped keep the class together and were, for all intents and purposes, excellent representatives of the university who showed remarkable leadership in the face of unprecedented adversity.

Now, with the sudden departure of Bill O’Brien, the 2013-14 Penn State football recruiting class is facing similar adversity. Keeping the recruiting class in tact is always one of the most important challenges with head coaching turnovers, especially with a class as good as the one O’Brien assembled for 2014. While the group hasn’t had the time to discuss its collective next step, many future players have taken to Twitter to reaffirm their commitment to the school — a truly special gesture considering they don’t yet know who their head coach will be.

While some of the players have remained quiet — some don’t even have Twitter accounts — many of the 19 incoming players are sticking behind the school during its latest ordeal.

De’Andre Thompkins (4-star WR)

This is a tricky one. Thompkins is set to enroll at Penn State on January 10, but with O’Brien gone and his position coach Stan Hixon gone with him,  Thompkins confirmed that he will open up his recruiting again depending on who the next head coach is.

“Me and Chris (Godwin) were talking about (what to do if Hixon leaves),” Thompkins told Audrey Snyder. “We love Hixon. He knows what it takes to get to the next level and if he leaves it would kind of make me sit back and think for a little bit because that is one of the big parts about why I love Pen State. It’s not just solely about O’Brien it’s also about the assistant coaches he brings in.”

UPDATE: Thompkins is in!

 

Thomas Holley (4-star DT)

Holley would be big loss for Penn State if he went elsewhere, and it looks like his commitment is contingent upon the next head coach as well. Holley was the recruit that said O’Brien was less than forthcoming to about the Texans rumors.

“It’s a business. You’re going to school to get a free education and they’re using you for football and you’re also using them to get to where you want to go,” Holley told PennLive. “It’s all a business so you can’t really look at it like he lied to me because it’s kind of like it’s happening now but was it happening a few months ago when I went on my official.”

Holley is also close with Larry Johnson, so if Johnson stays with the program after the new coach is hired (or, if Johnson is the new coach), we would expect Holley to stay.

Michael O’Connor (4-star QB)

The highly touted QB recruit is in the same boat as Holley, and will wait until the next coach is hired. O’Connor is also supposed to enroll at Penn State next semester.

“It is frustrating but you just understand it’s part of the business, it’s part of recruiting, it’s part of football and you kind of get used to it,” O’Connor said. “You just can’t take anything personally because people are going to do what’s best for them. You just kind of go about your business.”

UPDATE: O’Connor is delaying his enrollment, which means he won’t be on campus next semester.

UPDATE: O’Connor will be in town this weekend to meet Franklin and then decide. But it’s looking good for the Nittany Lions.

Chris Godwin (4-star WR)

Godwin was less than optimistic about his commitment, especially considering Hixon’s departure.

“I feel like it would make me go back and reevaluate the whole situation just because coach Hixon was a big part about why I committed to Penn State,” Godwin said. “It goes along with the offense that they run and the fact that I can get a great education there. I’m not going to say that I’d decommit, but it would make me reevaluate the situation.”

UPDATE: Godwin is in. This is a good sign for the rest of the receivers in this class.

 

Troy Reeder (4-star LB)

One of the first and most talented commits of this class looks like he’s staying put.

 

Troy Vincent Jr. (4-star CB)

No public word on Vincent Jr. yet, but apparently Wisconsin and Maryland are scrambling to talk to the talented cornerback.

Tarow Barney (4-star DT)

Barney hasn’t spoken publicly yet, but the JuCo transfer signed his letter of intent several weeks ago and is locked in to be on campus for the spring semester.

Johnathan Thomas (4-star RB)

The previous Maryland commit confirmed earlier today that he was still committed to Penn State.

Troy Apke (3-star WR)

No one has heard from Apke yet, but with Hixon guy, he’s likely playing the same waiting game as Godwin and Thompkins.

Mike Gesicki (3-star TE)

No one has gotten in touch with Gesicki yet but you can be sure Urban Meyer will be after this former Ohio State target.

UPDATE: He Tweeted this. Take it for what it’s worth.

UPDATE: Gesicki is giving no comment to reporters who get in touch with him. He was close with O’Brien, so some people are expecting he’ll talk to Ohio State again.

Noah Beh (3-star OT)

The former Pitt target confirmed that he is staying at Penn State.

Daquan Worley (3-star CB)

Worley, who is rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament, is going to wait and see who the next coach is before making a decision, but his comment sounds promising that he’s still interested.

“Me and my family we’re waiting to see who the head coach is,” Worley said. “I want to stay at Penn State that’s my dream school. But coaching-wise whoever comes in is probably going to want to bring in his own players and he won’t know what I can do. With my injury, my torn ACL, I don’t know if I’d get a good shot. But man, I do want to be at Penn State though so it’s hard.”

Marcus Allen (3-star S)

Allen was emphatic about his decision to stay on Twitter and in the press. He wasn’t exactly happy that Bill O’Brien told him that he’d be Penn State’s coach for at least three more years.

“I’m still 100 percent committed to Penn State,” Allen said. “He told me he’d stay and I wouldn’t want anybody to lie to me or to my family because that’s the worst thing he could do to us.”

UPDATE: Allen gave this amazing statement to Lions247:

“I’ve come to realize over the past 48 hours that Penn State isn’t a person. It’s a spirit and an idea. It’s the fans and the players and the coaches and the people who live in State College. The feeling I get when I visit State College isn’t due to one person, but my experience with everyone I have come in contact with. I feel truly blessed and humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence with Penn State Football. Thank you all for accepting me into the PSU family. Coach Johnson has shown me through this that a team player works hard and stays the course through adversity. I’ve learned a new life lesson before I even stepped foot on campus. WE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Nick Scott (3-star RB)

No word from Scott yet, but he was one of the first players to commit to this class and is from Lancaster.

Antoine White (3-star DT)

The New Jersey defensive tackle is an early enrollee and says he is sticking to his commitment.

Chasz Wright (3-star OT)

The prep schooler committed after the initial report about O’Brien leaving surfaced, and it looks like he’s here to stay.

Sure enough, he told Lions247 (rather eloquently) that he’s in.

“I know everyone’s journey in life does not take the same route. I understand completely the decision he made as a coach. I do recall in our conversation as a family we said he would love to see him stay at PSU but we all understand it’s a business and the importance of the best decision for his family. Coach O’Brien was not selling himself but selling PSU.

“I chose PSU for the great education, competition within the conference, and to be coached up to become the best STUDENT athlete I can be. I know can still pursue my dream at PSU. I hope all the other recruits stick together. I will stay the course, I am committed!!”

Jason Cabinda (3-star LB)

The Syracuse-decommit told Lions247 that he’s standing by his commitment and that “Penn State is where my heart is.”

Mark Allen (3-star RB)

Allen’s Tweets were probably the best of the night for recruits. Needless to say, he’s in.

 

 

Donte Raymond (LB)

No one has heard from Raymond yet. He’s one of the more recent commits of this class.

Photo By: Jacob DeFlitch

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About Author

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014, and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is a director of the Nittany Valley Society 501(c)(3) and is involved in student government.

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