March 2, 2010

Tuesday Recruitin': The Junior Dilemma

If you talk to a recruiting wonk, they will undoubtedly tell you that college football recruiting is a 365-day-a-year storyline. Those are wonks. We are not. Average fans tend to just focus on recruiting from Jan. 7th-ish (or whenever the BCS decides the college football season is over) until the early-February climax known as National Letter of Intent Signing Day.

Outside of that brief span, recruiting is a topic that pops up in conversation only when a big-name recruit actually gives the home team his verbal commitment.

But ESPN's Mark Schlabach put out an article this week on taking a look at how the early commitment by high school juniors has become big business in college football, and how some coaches aren't too comfortable with it all. Schlabach talked to Mack Brown, Jimbo Fisher, Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner, and Penn State's own Tom Bradley.

Texas has drawn much attention this young recruiting season, which isn't much younger than its current lot of 17 commitments from high school juniors. Brown, a guy I really respect in college football, Fisher and Garner all basically supported the Junior Day mentality, saying in so many words that it has become a necessary evil in college football. But then there was Scrap...
But the Nittany Lions don't have a single player committed to sign with them in 2011. Bradley said Penn State no longer stages junior days because it found they were not as effective as inviting prospects to campus on an individual basis.

"For us, junior days haven't been as successful as inviting kids up one-on-one," Bradley said. "We don't seem to do as well with the junior days. One or two kids might get left out and then they feel slighted. We think it's more valuable when you can spend time with one kid at a time."
Well good Lord, Tommy! Ain't that a quaint idea?

Penn State football is usually so conservative, it makes William F. Buckley look like a raging liberal. And usually, that patented conservatism has driven to some sharp divides within the fan base, particularly when it comes to recruiting. Yet in this case, Bradley is only reiterating the Paterno Way, where "success without honor is like an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good.”

Things just don't focus on honor anymore in college football, especially when it comes to recruiting. From a player's perspective, that claim couldn't be better summed up beyond a statement by Angelo Mangiro, an offensive guard prospect out of New Jersey, to Josh Moyer of the Nittany Network this week.
He said he actually finds it flattering Penn State gets to know its recruits first before throwing an offer at him, like some schools.
And some wonder still why Penn State can attract top-level talent each year.

Up Next Week:

Visit the recruiting board for the latest tally of recruits claiming offers from Penn State for 2011.
In our next edition, things should be a little meatier in terms of 2011 recruiting. There are some more juniors claiming offers from Penn State, but since nothing is even remotely reliable, we'll give things another week to develop.

Until then, stay tuned this week for the second installment of Blue-White Countdown 2010 this Friday, when we'll look at the defensive backs going into the spring game. Also, Tim should be posting another Ten Minutes or Less this week, featuring a certain homecoming game I know you'll all enjoy reliving.

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