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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