It’s fair to say that one of the bigger and more surprising story lines in recruiting for the past few months has been the success of Penn State. Amidst the Sandusky scandal and all the controversy, new head coach Bill O’Brien and his staff have done an incredible job in reeling in the 11th best class of 2013, according to 247 Sports.
In comparison to two of their rivals, Pittsburgh and Ohio State, Penn State has done very well. Some of the commits that Penn State has been picking up in their 2013 class have had offers from either or both Pittsburgh and Ohio State. Dorian Johnson, Penn State’s prized offensive lineman commit, is a great example in this case. Johnson, a western Pennsylvania guy, had a final four of Penn State, Pitt, Ohio State and West Virginia before having a final two of Penn State and Pitt. Many recruiting analysts thought Johnson was leaning towards Pitt, but Penn State was able to snag the Belle Vernon, PA native. So give O’Brien and his staff a lot of credit for getting guys like Johnson to buy in and become Nittany Lions.
Considering that Penn State, Pitt and Ohio State share a lot of the same recruiting grounds, that makes Penn State’s recruiting efforts even more impressive. The mid-Atlantic area, which has been vital to recruiting throughout the history of Penn State football, has been crucial with this new Penn State staff. 12 of Penn State’s 14 commits are from the mid-Atlantic and O’Brien and his staff must control this area if they want to get Penn State back among college football’s elite.
Another thing to consider with all three of these teams is that all three of the head coaches are new with their respective teams. This is O’Brien’s first head coaching gig after serving as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator. So far, it’s fair to say he’s handled the job better than anyone could’ve ever imagined. Ohio State’ Urban Meyer, who won two national championships with Florida, has done extremely well with recruiting so far in Columbus, even stealing a handful of former Penn State recruits from the 2012 class. Pitt’s head coach Paul Chryst, the former Wisconsin offensive coordinator, has done an average job recruiting so far. But with the hotbed of high school players in western Pennsylvania, that program should be on the rise in the coming years under Chryst.
We will soon be able to see how the recruiting efforts of these three programs fare directly against each other, as Penn State will be playing both Pitt and Ohio State in the future. Obviously Ohio State and Penn State are both in the Big Ten, but Pitt and Penn State are renewing their rivalry in 2016 and 2017. A lot of people say that you can judge a recruiting class after they’ve been at school for two years. We can only wait and see how well these new head coaches and their recruiting classes will manage through the years.
Some notable Penn State commits with offers from either or both Pitt and Ohio State: TE Adam Breneman (Pitt and Ohio State), DT Greg Webb (Ohio State), DE Garrett Sickels (Ohio State) and ATH Zayd Issah (Pitt).
Penn State 2013 commits with a Pitt offer: 4, with an Ohio State offer: 4
Pitt 2013 commits with a Penn State offer: 1, with an Ohio State offer: 1
Ohio State 2013 commits with a Penn State offer: 2, with a Pitt offer: 3
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