It’s hard to believe that signing day for the 2012 recruiting class was nearly four months ago. As those young men close out their high school careers and prepare for the next level, we’re going to check back in with them.
You originally committed to Rice in December, had anyone from Penn State contacted you at all before that?
”No sir. The first contact I had with Penn State was when Coach Hixon called in January.”
Many people think that choosing Penn State over Rice is a no-brainer, but I know you struggled with the decision. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
“Rice had recruited me the longest of my finalists. I had gotten to know them the best and all that was left was to go visit which I did in January. In the eight months before that, they had recruited me, they had offered me, they had flown over from Houston to Georgia and it’s not like they have the highest budget, as far as football goes. They had really shown that they wanted me. I had sat down with all the coaches and gone through every aspect of the recruiting process that you could possible go through. You need to go somewhere that you’re wanted, and that goes a long way. They are a class act. I could talk to you for days about Rice University. They’re heading in the right direction. They know what they wanna do and they know how to get there. I have the utmost respect for them. I had fallen in love with Rice. I had picked them, I was ready to sign with them, all that. They’re top notch as far as academics goes…but a Penn State degree isn’t anything to sneeze at either. They’re up there as far as academics goes, but they’re also up there as far as football goes. And Rice isn’t it, yet. So, playing top level football and getting a top level degree is- I couldn’t ask for more.”
What was your initial impression of Coach O’Brien?
“He came off as a no-nonsense guy. That was the first thing. He knew what he wanted to do and he knew how he wanted to get it done. You could tell he had a goal or vision toward what he’s trying to do. He doesn’t just know where he wants to go, he knows how he wants to get there. He seemed like a blue collar guy who loves football and knows football.”
You were rated across the board, mostly as a three star. I’ve read where a scout called your accuracy “borderline elite.” You have the arm and above-average speed (4.68 40). You were recruited by some big schools, but the offers never came. Why do you think that is?
“The rankings don’t mean anything to me. A lot of that stuff is bogus. I play down here in the heart of the SEC and it’s not unusual for me to go every single week, playing against at least one four or five star football player down here and I’ve been extremely successful against every single one that I’ve ever played against. I can play with the best of em, whether my Rivals rating says it or not, I can do it. I proved I can do it, you just have to come watch.
They all wanted to see me in camp. I’ll be honest, over the last year or year and a half, I’ve grown a ton as far as weight and even height. I got knocked for my size but at the same time, I’d go to camps and just light it up- make all the throws and make them well. I’d perform really well at camps but then it would be ‘Well he played in a veer offense his junior year, or he’s too small or Look, nobody else has offered so there must be something wrong with him, even though he just lit up our camp.
As far as not getting those big offers, I was on plenty of boards, I was really high on plenty of boards. I got offered by Mississippi State when I told them I was committing to Penn State. No one knows that because I didn’t report it. There was no need to, because I was going to Penn State. I called them to tell them I had committed and he said ‘but you haven’t come on an official visit yet!’ They had been dragging me along and then all of a sudden they wanted me.
I was sitting in Jimbo Fisher’s office and he told me that if they didn’t get Jameis Winston (#11 overall player in the country), I was the kid that they want. I was on plenty of boards and for whatever reason, they always ended up getting whatever guy they wanted ahead of me. I guess that’s just how it happens sometimes.”
What was your proudest high school moment, athletically?
“If I had to pick one, this past year we played an important game toward getting our regional championship. We came out, turned the ball over, fumbles, miscues on special teams and we were down 20-0 at halftime. I gave my little ‘Tebow speech’ at halftime to whoever would listen. I got a little loud- I gave my two cents. We came out and the first play of the 2nd half, I ran over a safety. Just ran him flat over, got up, got the crowd into it and it really, not being cocky, it really ignited the rest of our season to the semi-finals. We ended up winning that game 28-20. Couldn’t be stopped. Scored on four straight series. That one play really ignited the rest of our season. We were down 20-0 and all of a sudden we couldn’t be stopped. From that second half and everything that came from it was probably my proudest athletic moment in high school…Other than signing with Penn State.”
What number will you be wearing at Penn State?
“I asked for either #3 or #12, hopefully I get #12.”
What are your goals as a freshman at Penn State?
“Becoming the best football player that I can possibly be. If that’s the fourth string quarterback, then so be it. If it’s the starting quarterback, then so be it. My goal is to be the best I can be and work my tail off.”
If you want to read more, yes MORE, from Steven Bench, check out our Facebook page!
Re-introducing Penn State’s 2012 Recruiting Class:
DE Evan Schwan
CB Jake Kiley
For all of the latest on the Penn State Nittany Lions, follow VBR Lead Editor Tim Tolley on Twitter.