With the Penn State Junior Day coming up and all the attention it’s being given, it made me wonder what EXACTLY a “Junior Day” is, by definition.
Turns out, there is no true definition. The NCAA doesn’t specifically address anything as a Junior Day. Essentialy, it’s an unofficial visit, taken by several players at one time. It’s an invitation-only open house. It’s also a way to kickoff the recruitment for the next 11-12 months.
Schools get a chance to bring in players and introduce themselves, their program, facilites, etc. The Junior Days for schools like Penn State and Ohio State are especially crucial, as the new coaching staffs are often meeting prospects for the first time. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. At the same time, it gives the staff a chance to observe some of the players for the first time. Several kids show up at these visits without an offer, then leave with one in hand. Sometimes a kid will be on the fringe as far as his skills, but once the staff meets him and accepts that he is the kind of person they’re looking for, they pop the offer. Another scenario is that you get to offer a kid after blowing him away while on his visit. “Well, you think you’d like to come to this locker room every day and play in _ _ _ _ _ Stadium on Saturdays? Here’s your offer.” The hope being that the kid has fallen in love and commits on the spot.
Because the kids visiting aren’t seniors, the visits are considered unofficial, meaning the players and their families are responsible for the expenses of the trip. This leads to the visitors being mostly regional. Penn State will host recruits from 8 different states this weekend, including MD, OH and NY.
Recruits who attended Junior Days this past weekend were showed facilities and new “gear” at West Virginia, where they got to spend some one-on-one time with position coaches and meet the head coach. Ohio State did something similar, taking the kids to the Horseshoe and showing them around the meeting rooms.
Penn State will likely do the same thing. They’ll take the kids and their parents to Beaver Stadium, show off the locker room and largest football weight room in the country. Bill O’Brien will meet with some of the top guys and probably offer a few on the spot, while the position coaches will pull small groups aside, explaining the scheme and responsibilities of their position.
It’s impossible to know if Penn State will get any verbal pledges during their Junior Day, but it will be a great opportunity for just that. Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last Junior Day Penn State holds. They’ll likely bring in a group of kids during spring practice, where the kids can observe the players and potentially sit in on positional meetings.
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