Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sandusky Scandal Takes Toll on Penn State's Class

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sandusky Scandal Takes Toll on Penn State's Class

Article excerpt


Perhaps no major college football program in the country faced a bigger recruiting challenge than Penn State.

Eight high school players decommitted from the Nittany Lions' 2012 class, including six after the child sexual abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky rocked the campus in November and cost late Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno his job.

Paterno's successor, current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, was hired Jan. 6, and he completed his first Penn State recruiting class Wednesday by signing 19 players to national letters of intent.

The class features 10 offensive players and nine on defense, and includes recruits from nine states and one from Canada.

"We signed a lot of great kids, great student-athletes, that are going to help us build this program," said Charles London, the team's recruiting coordinator and running backs coach.

London credited defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, the two holdovers from Paterno's staff, with a big assist as O'Brien continues to do double duty with the Nittany Lions and Patriots, who face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl Sunday in Indianapolis.

"A lot of credit for this recruiting class has to go to coach Vanderlinden and coach Johnson," London said. "When we were going through the transition period here at Penn State, those two coaches and the old coaches that were here, stayed with those prospects. So once we got here in early January, we just had to pick up the ball where they left off.

"The second thing we got when we got here, after our [university] ID, was a GPS. I needed that on my last recruiting trip. A lot of us are familiarizing ourselves with Pennsylvania, since a lot of us are from the South. The reception in the schools has been great. The student-athletes have been excited to have us in their schools. Everybody's been very supportive."

Penn State's class includes five defensive linemen, three defensive backs and a linebacker. …

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