Jordan Smith commits to Penn State, call it his ‘dream school’

Washington, D.C. product Jordan Smith announced his commitment to Penn State Saturday.

Smith, a cornerback from Woodson High, said he committed to Penn State on July 24 but waited until last weekend to make his announcement.

The 5-10, 185-pounder becomes the first recruit to verbally commit to the Nittany Lions since they were hit with the devastating NCAA penalties in July.

“It’s just something I’ve grown up on when I was playing in the backyard,” Smith told Rivals.com. “I envisioned myself at Penn State and it’s an opportunity I want to take full advantage of.

“I like the idea of Penn State, the education, a degree from there speaks volumes in the job market,” he said. “The coaching staff is outstanding and Penn State is my dream school.”

Smith is a two-star prospect according to Rivals and plays in the secondary – a place the Lions definitely need more numbers.

He also had scholarship offers from FBS schools such as Colorado, Kansas and Hawaii.

Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson was the main recruiter of Smith. Johnson has long had success recruiting the Maryland and D.C area for the Nittany Lions.

As a junior last season, Smith had 64 tackles, including four sacks. He also had two interceptions and returned one of them for a touchdown.

Smith indicated that he would enroll at Penn State in January.

For more information on Eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

Silas Redd transferring to USC

Silas Redd announced Tuesday afternoon that he will transfer from Penn State to the University of Southern California.

In wake of the sanctions levied by the NCAA, Penn State players were allowed unprecedented liberal transfer rules. Redd visited USC’s campus over the weekend and viewed a workout on Monday morning before leaving.

Redd informed Penn State coach Bill O’Brien of his decision following a two=hour meeting Tuesday afternoon in State College.

“This has obviously been a very busy, emotionally draining week for me and my family,” Redd said in a statement he released following his decision. “As many of you know, playing football at Penn State has been a dream of mine since I was seven years old, and I will be forever grateful that this dream became a reality. This is the reason that the decision I have made is so difficult for me: I will transfer to USC to complete my education and my college football career, beginning in the 2012-2013 year. Penn State gave me a phenomenal opportunity to become part of a legendary football program. My teammates, my coaches – past and present – and the staff have provided me with a tremendous amount of guidance and support since I arrived on campus, and I can’t thank them enough for their time, their advice, and their friendship. They have given me such a strong foundation from which I can continue to grow.”

Redd, who has two years of eligibility remaining, rushed for 1,241 yards last season as a sophomore. As a freshman he ran for 437 yards and had a 5.7 average yards per rush.

He was widely considered to be Penn State’s best player and top target of other schools during this unique recruiting process.

USC coach Lane Kiffin and seven assistants came east last week to meet with Redd and his family in Connecticut. Redd then went to the Los Angeles campus for the weekend.

USC was looking for a running back to fill one of its final needs on offense.

The transfer means the running back position will be filled by Bill Belton, Curtis Dukes, Derek Day and possibly incoming freshman Akeel Lynch. Lynch, though, is apparently considering a move to Iowa.

In high school Redd starred at King Low Heywood Thomas School in Stamford, Conn. Rivals.com ranked Redd as the top high school player in the state in 2009 and he was selected to play in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

In addition, Rivals had the Norwalk native ranked as the No. 4 running back in the country while Scout.com had him as the No. 7 running back.

He helped lead his team to a 16-2 record during his final two years of high school. He gained 1,924 yards during his senior season. Even more impressive was his 14.0 average yards per attempt.

For more information on Eastern football, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter.

Penn State rallies in support of current players

Chances are, for most of the students walking down State College’s Beaver Avenue at 5:45 this morning it was the first time they had been on the streets that early since they were walking home from a long night out.

Instead of trudging back to their apartments after a night of frivolity, this stream of students was headed to an early morning football workout. They were headed to show their appreciation and support to the players who are staying at Penn State.

The students joined businessmen in coats and ties that stopped by before work, parents with children wanting to show support and many, many students (even though 95% of students aren’t even back on campus yet).

Everybody converged on Holuba Hall to greet players as they made their way to what was otherwise a normal summer Tuesday morning workout.

Various estimates  pegged the turnout between 3,000 -4,000.

Rise and Rally, as the event was tagged, was organized by The Goon Show, a football centric podcast hosted by former Penn State players Keith Conlin and Tim Sweeney. It was meant to show support for players that are staying at the school.

Fans also got to line the practice field and watch the short workout. After the workout, the players invited the fans on to the field for the group huddle and breakdown.

The players were clearly moved by the show of support as Matt McGloin, Donovan Smith, Garry Gilliam, Adrian Amos, Bill Belton and Steven Bench, to name just a few, took to Twitter to express their gratitude.

Said McGloin, “After experiencing this today, I don’t know who would want to leave this place.”

The first official first day of fall practice for Penn State is Aug. 6. The team’s opening game is Sept. 1 against Ohio at noon in Beaver Stadium.

For more information on eastern football and recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter.

 

 

For Penn State football – a week like no other

From worse than the death penalty to the nucleus of the 2013 class all staying – in a week that many declared as the death knell for Penn State football, there were actually a few rays of hope.

It all began Monday morning with the NCAA skirting its normal processes and bylaws and penalizing Penn State and its football program as badly – if not worse – than any school in history. This was done on the heels of the scathing Freeh report – a report that the school itself commissioned and paid for.

The school agreed to the penalties and not to challenge them just so it wasn’t hit with a four-year death penalty. Even though the NCAA bylaws say it can only levy a two-year death penalty, the school was threatened with an unprecedented four-year penalty. As the week went on, however, we saw how many normal rules were tossed out the window in an effort to decimate the Penn State football program and show the public that the NCAA – or at least president Mark Emmert – means business.

By Monday afternoon many national pundits proclaimed the penalties worse than the death penalty. The scholarship losses will all but make Penn State football irrelevant. One analyst said the penalties would probably make Penn  State football like the University of Chicago – a school that would have to drop football.

In addition to those scholarship losses, the NCAA was positive that hardly any current Penn State players would want to actually stay at their school so it waived all logical tampering, contact and recruiting rules. This led to mass chaos.

Coaches from many other schools camped out on campus and in front of players’ apartments. Even after many players publicly committed to staying at Penn State, other coaches continue to stalk.

Illinois, in fact, sent eight coaches to State College complete with Illinois garb and gear. Illinois coach Tim Beckman said his coaches weren’t on campus. Penn State players, though, tweeted about having coaches right outside their apartments.

All of this mess was the prelude to coach Bill O’Brien heading to Big 10 Media Days in Chicago. In addition to O’Brien, players Michael Mauti, Jordan Hill and John Urschel were in Chicago for all the media to see and hear.

First, a group of about 30 players stated publicly – and in a group – that they were staying at Penn State.

Then came the media conferences. In fact, Mauti’s passion for the school was evident to all and even begrudgingly started to engender sympathy from some media members. Although, all positive comments about PSU players had to be  qualified with the prerequisite nasty comments about the school such as in this column on CBS.

By the last day of the media frenzy in Chicago, fans of opposing teams were coming up to the Penn State players to wish them luck and tell them they’d be rooting for them.

Then came the weekend.

The core group of the 2013 recruiting class came to State College to meet with O’Brien. By Saturday afternoon all-everything quarterback Christian Hackenberg, four-star tight end Adam Breneman, Garrett Sickels, Will Fuller, Brendan Mahon, Andrew Nelson and Dorian Johnson all reaffirmed their commitments to the school.

A prominent national football writer for Sports Illustrated, Stewart Mandel, even tweeted, “So much for the mass exodus.”

The news didn’t end there. We found out that third-string quarterback Rob Bolden, a junior, is probably transferring to LSU. What wasn’t mentioned is that Bolden was granted his release during the spring. This comes after two frustrating years. He, in fact, wanted to transfer after his freshman season. It just took him this long to find a school that was interested. Given how things were progressing, the transfer is probably a good thing for both Bolden and the staff.

Sure, it would be better to have Bolden for depth at the position. But if ever a change of scenery might be good for someone, it’s Bolden. And that was the case before the Sandusky news and Freeh report ever came to light.

That leaves us with Silas Redd. Obviously, it would be a blow to the team and program if he left for USC. However, as of this writing on Monday morning, he hadn’t bolted. That’s good news for Penn State fans as many assumed the star running back would’ve committed to USC while visiting the campus over the weekend.

So it was quite a week for everyone associated with the Penn State football program. No, things aren’t going to be great for quite a few years. But if you were listening last Monday, one would’ve thought the program would immediately fall into a deep abyss and never come out.

Time will tell and maybe all those national writers will be correct and Penn State football will die a slow, painful death. But for Penn State fans hoping that is not the case, the week also contained a few rays of hope for the future.

New temporary PSU transfer rules go overboard

by Marty Valania

Has anybody actually read what opposing schools are allowed to do to current Penn State football players right now? And does anybody think this is a good idea?

Look, I have absolutely no qualms with any Penn State football player that wants to transfer. I have absolutely no problem with the NCAA easing restrictions on Penn State football players transferring. They should be able to leave and be able to play right away. It makes perfect sense.

In addition, I have no qualms with many of the penalties that the NCAA levied against Penn State. This one part of the transfer rule, however, makes no sense to me.

Here are the “new” rules in black and white.

“The NCAA recognizes that current football student-athletes will be negatively impacted by the Penn State sanctions,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for Academic and Membership Affairs. “We want to allow those eligible student-athletes as much flexibility as possible while still being mindful of some of the transfer safeguards our membership has put in place.”

Okay. That sounds good to me.

What doesn’t make sense is that every college in the country can now recruit Penn State football players – EVEN IF THEY HAVEN’T EXPRESSED ANY INTEREST IN LEAVING.  The suspension of contact rule has been suspended. That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Phones started ringing Monday morning – just after Mark Emmert got done speaking.

We’ve all heard the rumors. Silas Redd to USC being the chief among them. But I also saw that one SEC coach offered three Penn State players scholarships before noon on Monday. ACC schools, UConn, Rutgers, Tennessee, Ohio State, the list of vultures goes on and on.

Granted, the NCAA wants to punish Penn State football into submission. That much is clear. But allowing this is the absolute most hypocritical thing they can do.

As I stated earlier, if a player wants to transfer he should be able to contact any school in the country. He should be able to pick where he wants to go and go there and play immediately.

But allowing other schools to contact them minutes after they just heard about these unprecedented sanctions is callous and a terrible precedent to set. These players have had their lives turned upside down and now you’re letting the recruiting sharks at them without having the opportunity to even digest the situation. It’s just plain horrible.

In addition, they are allowing schools to exceed their scholarship limits to accept Penn State players. Really? I’m not making this stuff up. This is how the NCAA thinks is a good way to change the football culture – by allowing coaches to attack other rosters and exceed their scholarship limits. At any other time these are all violations.

Does anybody really think that this is “being mindful of the transfer safeguards the membership has put in place?”

Does Penn State need to be penalized? Absolutely. Do the players need to be penalized any more than they already have been? Absolutely not.

Does this rule somehow benefit the victims? If so, fail to see how.

I understand punitive penalties. I don’t understand overturning fundamental rules that have been safeguards forever.

To learn more about eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

NCAA sanction announcement could cause havoc on PSU’s 2013 class

If you think recruiting is a crazy business with lots of upheaval, just wait until NCAA President Mark Emmert announces his sanctions against Penn State.

The announcement is set for 9 a.m. Eastern Monday morning and is expected to include a $30-$60 million fine, a multiple year bowl ban and “crippling” scholarship losses.

Despite the Sandusky scandal, Coach Bill O’Brien and his staff have pieced together a highly ranked recruiting class – ranked in the top 15 of services such as Rivals.com, 247Sports, Scout.com and ESPN. The class has been led by stalwarts Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg and those two have rallied many other high school stars into the Penn State 2013 recruiting class.

Even after the Freeh report was released two weeks ago, all of the recruits have been steadfast in their commitments to PSU.

That changed over the weekend as New Jersey defensive tackle flipped from Penn State to North Carolina. Others have noted that they might look around or “keep their options open.”

Other recruits are just plain sick and angry about being asked about their commitments every hour of the day. Here’s what four-star defensive end from New Jersey Garrett Sickels had to say on Twitter.

That’s probably good advice but not how the media or social media world works these days and speculation is officially rampant.

In addition to Hackenberg, Breneman and Sickels, Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class as of today includes Brandon Bell, Zach Bradshaw, Curtis Cothran, Ross Douglas, William Fuller, Zayd Issah, Dorian Johnson, Brendon Mahon, Andrew Nelson, and Neiko Robinson.

All of them are three and four-star recruits. All of them would be desired by other schools.

In addition, social media has been full of posts talking about college coaches getting ready to pick the Penn State roster like vultures.

Recruiting is a crazy business that is getting crazier all the time. Depending on what Emmert says tomorrow, we may be on the verge of the craziest recruiting story we’ve ever seen.

For more information on eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

Olsen having a good Elite 11 to this point

Through two days of the Elite 11 showcase in Redondo Beach, Cal. Kevin Olsen, according to multiple reports, is having the best showing of any of the quarterbacks from the East.

Along with Olsen, a Miami recruit from Wayne, N.J., Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va. and Penn State recruit) and Shane Cockerille (Baltimore, Md. and Maryland recruit) are participating. They are three of 25 standout quarterbacks from around the country competing in the ESPN event.

For those looking to follow the event on a free site, check out 247Sports message board. It has continuous updates during all drills and competitions.

There are still two days of drills and competition left for Hackenberg, Cockerille or any of the other top quarterbacks and recruits in the country to improve.

The competition will also be televised as a show on ESPNU.

Other quarterbacks attending will be Max Browne (USC), Shane Morris (Michigan), Cooper Bateman (Alabama), Cody Thomas (Oklahoma), Tyrone Swoopes (Texas), Brice Ramsey (Georgia), Malik Zaire (Notre Dame), Troy Williams (Washington), J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Asiantii Woulard (South Florida), Riley Ferguson (Tennessee), Jared Goff (Cal), Anthony Jennings (LSU), Johnny Stanton (Nebraska), Austin Allen (Arkansas), Davis Webb (Texas Tech), Zack Greenlee (undecided), DeVante Kincaid (Ole Miss), Joshua Dobbs (Arizona State), Luke Del Rio (Oklahoma State), Danny Etling (Purdue) and Zach Allen (Syracuse).

For more information on eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

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