November 24, 2012; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Bill O

Penn State Recruiting-Elite Quarterbacks Do Not Always Pan Out


Typically on Tuesdays I try to recap the recruiting world.  But aside from some 2015 notes, things have slowed down somewhat.  All that seems to be percolating is Troy Vincent Jr., who has long been rumored to the Nittany Lions.  Instead, I thought I would take a look back today, in light of Bill O’Brien securing the 11th verbal commitment for 2014 with IMG Academy QB Michael O’Connor.  In the course of roughly 16 months, O’Brien has pulled in the consensus top pocket QB in the country with incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg, and now a top 10-15 signal caller with the Canadian O’Connor.  Things would appear to be quite rosy under center in Happy Valley.  But it doesn’t take a historian to temper expectations.

Since 2004, Penn State has signed the following blue chip caliber quarterbacks: Anthony Morelli (2004), Pat Devlin (2006), Kevin Newsome (2009), Rob Bolden (2010), and Paul Jones (2010).  All of those players had at least 4 stars, but in the time all 5 were on campus, it was unheralded Daryll Clark (3 stars) and walk-on Matt McGloin, who had the most successful tenures.  In fact, Morelli was the only player in that time frame to even finish his career at Penn State.  Devlin, Newsome, Bolden, and Jones all transferred out of the program.

It is not just at Penn State where elite quarterbacks seem to struggle.  All it take is a quick look through the careers of Elite 11 Finalists to see the best prep QBs often are MORE likely to struggle when they take the step to college.  In just 2005, Mitch Mustain, Kevin Riley, Jevan Snead, Neil Caudle, Zach Frazier, Cody Hawkins, Juice Williams, and Devin were all named finalists at the Elite 11 camp.  Riley’s 2007 Armed Forces Bowl MVP could be the highlight of those Division 1 collegiate careers.  Sure, Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford, and Jake Locker rounded out that Elite 11 class, but were of course in the minority for collegiate success.

I don’t write this to rain on Penn State’s recruiting parade.  O’Brien and his staff, notably Fisher, should be commended for bringing in the type of talent they have in just 17 months on the job.  But before crowning any of these young men the next great PSU quarterback, just remember, PSU entered 2010 with Newsome, Bolden, and Jones on the roster.  By the end of the season, Matt McGloin was the starter.

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Tags: Christian Hackenberg Featured Football Michael O'connor Penn State Nittany Lions Popular Recruiting

  • Michael Franks

    Also remember that PSU has better QB coaching than we did when those guys were on campus. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome of Furgason, Hackenberg and O’Connor.

    • PSUMatt2005

      That certainly may happen, but this is not something that only happens at PSU. That’s why I wanted to include the Elite 11 tidbit. You can even look at the NFL, and the number of high draft picks that never pan out at QB.

  • psumba

    Playing QB in high school is VERY different than being a BCS QB. Being a BCS QB is VERY different than being an NFL QB.

    Too many people want to ignore the differences between each of the levels, the impact of the players who support you, and the level of your competition.

    Just ask Ron Dayne (RB – U of Wisc. – Heisman winner) He had a quality OL in front of him at Wisc and could overpower many B1G LB’s … but was a bust in the pro’s for being too slow & having an average OL in front of him! Great guy … but couldn’t make the transition.

    … and then there’s that guy Tibow …