PSU Recruits Digesting Sanctions

Bill O'Brien

Before NCAA president Mark Emmert finished reading the unprecedented sanctions levied against Penn State, speculation began as to how widespread the impact would be on recruiting, and in turn, how it would impact the program.

In fact, it started on the eve of Emmert's announcement as prized four-star quarterback commit Christian Hackenberg of Fork Union (Va.) High told Scout.com "a four- to five-year bowl ban" could push him to look elsewhere, and as Emmert's announcement was taking place, three-star cornerback Ross Douglas of Avon (Ohio) High, through is father, announced he had de-committed from Penn State.

PENN STATE PUNISHED

The NCAA came down hard on Penn State on Monday, handing out severe penalties in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal:

PSU gets bowl ban, loses scholarships
Reaction from campus personalities
Alumni group calls penalty 'baseless'
First recruit de-commits after news
Two recruits say they'll stay
How far will recruiting fallout go?

The sanctions levied against Penn State on Monday were unprecedented, and the fallout is expected to be only beginning.

Penn State received a four-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine, the loss of 10 scholarships per year for the next four years and a cutback to 65 scholarships (NCAA limit is 85) beginning in 2014 and also was placed on a probation for five years as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

In addition, any current player in good standing can transfer to any other school (the Big Ten is contemplating a waiver to allow players to transfer within the league) without having to sit out the usual NCAA-mandated one year.

"It might not have been the death penalty, but it killed any chances for them to be competitive in a BCS conference at least over the course of the (postseason ban) and the two years following," said Scott Kennedy, the director of recruiting at Scout.com.

Recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, and Penn State's ability to recruit at a BCS level is now in question.

Two of Penn State's commits -- Randolph (N.J.) High offensive lineman Brendan Mahon and Red Bank Regional High (Little Silver, N.J.) defensive end Garrett Sickels told Scout.com in the late afternoon they were honoring their commitments to Penn State.

Many of Penn State's other 12 committed players in the 2013 class were politely declining comment as they digested the news, while a few went to Twitter to voice their opinions.

Five-star tight end Adam Breneman said late Monday night he planned to remain committed to Penn State.

"I committed to play for Coach O'Brien and in front of 100,000 fans, and all that stuff is still there," Breneman said Monday night. "This is still the beginning of the process, and I'm still evaluating things with my family and talking things over with my coaches and people I trust right now. I also spoke to Coach O'Brien, and I remain committed to Coach O'Brien."

Also, Hershey (Pa.) High offensive lineman Andrew Nelson texted FOXSportsNEXT to say he remains committed to Penn State.

Chuck Smith, who coaches Penn State linebacker commit Brandon Bell at Oakcrest High (Mays Landing, N.J.), issued a statement via text.

"Once Brandon makes a decision about his future we will let everyone know," Smith said. "Right now Brandon and his family are evaluating the situation."

Marcus Ball, a safety at Westerville-South High in Westerville, Ohio, said via Twitter that Penn State is no longer in his top five.

Several of Penn State's class of 2012 members, who are already enrolled, texted Scout.com to say they need to speak with coach Bill O'Brien before making any public statements. Four players who wished to remain anonymous texted the same phrase: "Defer all questions to coach O'Brien."


Christian Hackenberg is one of Penn State's highest profile commits.

Furthermore, sources told Scout.com several high school coaches of members of Penn State's 2012 class reached out to schools about their players transferring. It is a saga that is likely to play out time and again in the near future because football programs begin training camp in two weeks.

"The combination of a four-year (postseason) ban that lets anybody on their campus leave without having to sit out a year," Kennedy said, "and knowing they would not have played in a bowl game (at Penn State) the letting of the freshman class out of their letters of intent, the cap to 15 initial (scholarships per year) and the overall cap of 65, all that combines to say it is going to be awfully tough to recruit players that will field a competitive team in a BCS conference over the course of the next five years.

"And then, how quickly can they recover from the length of these (sanctions)? I don't know. It's hard for me to picture Penn State being a .500 or better team in a BCS conference over the next decade."

Timber Creek Regional High coach Rob Hinson said it will be very difficult for O'Brien to sell Penn State to recruits for the next few years. One of Hinson's players, four-star defensive tackle Greg Webb, de-committed from Penn State on Thursday and switched to North Carolina on Saturday in a move unrelated to Monday's announcement. But Timber Creek is one of the top programs in New Jersey and already has four players committed to BCS programs in the 2013 class.

"Limiting the number of scholarships they have is going to make them not as competitive overall," Hinson said. "I would say most kids want to go to a school that is going to be competitive and have a chance to win, and have a chance to go to a bowl game. With Penn State not having that opportunity, I would really not see it being an attractive place for a lot of kids."

Scout.com's John Garcia Jr. and Greg Pickel contributed to this report

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