Penn State put together an impressive recruiting class in the face of NCAA sanctions. A reduction in scholarships certainly held Penn State back from Bill O'Brien being able to put together his ideal class, but the recognition of what the staff was able to muster together has been respectful nationally.
Bill O'Brien, Penn State head coach
We feel really positive about this class for many reasons. When I was hired here, the first thing we did after we met with our football team last year that was here at Penn State was we began to delve right into recruiting. What we want here eventually is definitely a smart team, a high‑character team, a big, fast, physical football team that can play in all kinds of weather. I think we've done that with this recruiting class.
On the type of players Penn State sought…
What we did was we found guys that came from good families, that were smart guys that we think are tough guys that we know are going to come here and go to class and be good in the community. Time will tell about obviously how good they all end up being. You never really know until they actually start playing for you.
On impact of NCAA sanctions…
Sanction‑wise, certainly we lost some kids because of sanctions. There's no question about it. I'm not going to sit up here and tell you that the sanctions didn't play a factor in some of the guys that we set out to recruit.
Charles London, Penn State running backs coach and recruiting coordinator
I think we were able to address all of the needs we were looking for. Obviously, we had a limited amount of scholarships we could offer, but we feel like we got a great group of kids that can come in and help us and help us get ready for the 2013 season.
247 Sports, Top 2013 Classes By Position (Quarterback)
The pick here was fairly simple, Penn State. The Nittany Lions signed a pair of signal callers in the class, led by the top ranked high school quarterback in the class, the mobile and strong armed Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union Military). While the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Hackenberg dominates the conversation at the position, the signing of four-star junior college signal caller Tyler Ferguson (Visalia, Calif./College of the Sequoias) is also of importance. Not only will the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Ferguson fight for the starting job staring this spring, but he will enable the Penn State staff to bring Hackenberg along at a slower pace.
When the NCAA handed down unprecedented sanctions against the Nittany Lions that included no postseason appearances for four years, expectations were that their recruiting class would fall apart. While several prospects backed out of their verbal commitments in the aftermath, more stayed, including Hackenberg and four-stars Adam Breneman, Brendan Mahon and Garrett Sickels. That example helped Penn State improbably sign a top-half-of-the-conference class despite low numbers.
Five-star tight end Adam Breneman is one of the nation's best, but got hurt and missed all of his senior year. Provided he's fully healthy, he should make a big impact. There is talent coming in on the front seven again. Defensive end Garrett Sickels and linebacker Zayd Issah are four-star guys. Watch out for 6'5 defensive ends Curtis Cothran and Parker Cothren as well. Other than Breneman, Hackenberg will have more targets to throw to.