Recruits Will Decide When New Coach Is Named

Columnists, Penn State fans, and Penn State haters are all a twitter (not the social media site) about the implosion of the Nittany Lions’ recruting for 2012.

Unfortunately, there is good reason to worry, as pointed out in this piece by Bob Flounders of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

I think there is no doubt PSU will lose some more recruits, and how many others they will gain and of what quality remains a very open questions.

Still….

How much of a 2012 class the Lions can salvage rests more with the naming of a new coach and that coach’s staff than anything else.

Some recruits and some recruits’ parents will not want anything to do with Penn State in the aftermath of the child abuse debacle.  Some may also worry whether NCAA sanctions may be coming down the road.

I think many, though, will wait to hear from the new coaching staff, see what they have done in the past, listen to what they plan to do with the program, and recruits and their parents will consider how they fit into that plan.  Some may even (gasp) look at the academics, and there I think Penn State still does pretty well.

The facilities, strong fan and alumni base, Big Ten affiliation, and 107,000 seat stadium are still positives. 

I think it’s likely the football program may fall a peg or two in the short term, as the university makes a concerted effort to place academics and–here’s hoping, anyway–a more open attitude more important than the annual number of wins on the gridiron.

But, there’s no denying the place football holds in the hearts of Nittany Nation, many of whom are big donors, and how important filling that stadium is to thousands of jobs in Centre County.

Let’s see who the new coach is, hope he and his staff can get a little extra out of some second tier recruits over the next few years, and hope for a restored luster to Mount Nittany sooner rather than later.

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Still added to two more All-America teams

Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still’s list of All-America honors has risen to nine with his selection as a first-team Associated Press and FoxSportsNext.com/Scout.com All-American.

The 6-5, 310-pound standout senior previously had been selected a first-team All-American by: Walter Camp Football Foundation, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), ESPN.com, CBSsports.com, SI.com, Pro Football Weekly and Yahoo! Sports.

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Still earns three more All-America honors

Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still has been selected to three more All-America teams, lifting the number of his first-team selections to seven.

Still was named a first-team All-American by SI.com Tuesday after earning honors by Pro Football Weekly and Yahoo! Sports on Monday. The standout senior previously had been selected a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), ESPN.com and CBSsports.com.

Penn State junior linebacker Gerald Hodges was selected a Pro Football Weekly honorable-mention All-American, one of just four outside linebackers PFW recognized (two first-team, two honorable-mention).

A first-team All-Big Ten honoree, Hodges ranks in the top 15 in the conference in tackles (97, eighth), sacks (4.5, 12th) and tackles for loss (10.0, 14th).

A starter in 24 games the past two seasons, Still recently was selected the Big Ten Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year and as the conference’s Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year.

For the season, Still is second in the Big Ten in solo tackles for loss (15.0) and is tied for third in overall TFL (17.0-minus 77), leading a Penn State defense that ranks in the Top 10 nationally in scoring, total, pass and pass efficiency defense.

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Sandusky Hearing Brings Another Tough Day for Nittany Nation

After dominating national headlines for a week in early November, the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse story has receded to the background for the past month.

But that will change tomorrow, as Sandusky has his preliminary hearing in Centre County, and in front of the nation.

It promises to be another tough day for Penn Staters.

For those of you who don’t follow the criminal justice system, a preliminary hearing is held in front of a district justice.  Its purpose is to determine whether there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.  There’s no “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, so there seems little doubt this case will proceed to trial.

However, a story in yesterday’s Harrisburg Patriot News, the media outlet that broke this story, quotes a family friend of Mike McQueary who was present when McQueary told his father about allegedly seeing Jerry Sandusky sodomize a boy in a Penn State shower, as disputing that account of the event.  This individual, claims the Patriot, says McQueary told this person and his father he heard “sex sounds”, whatever that means, while the shower was running, saw a boy poke his head around the corner of the shower, then saw an adult’s arm wrap around the boy and pull him back into the shower.

Seconds later McQuearly saw Sandusky walk out of the shower wearing a towel. 

Very different from the McQueary testimony released by the attorney general’s office.

McQueary’s credibility is already under challenge, and Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, and Gary Shultz all claim McQueary never shared details of an actual sexual assault.  This is also the victim Sandusky’s attorney says told him the assault never happened.

The preliminary hearing is not the place this case will be tried, and the district justice will have to keep the attornies from doing that tomorrow.  But, the strategies of each side may start to appear at this point.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of this, two things seem certain to happen tomorrow:  the case will go to trial, and Nittany Nation will be in the national headlines for an unwanted reason, again.

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Still named team MVP; Powell honored for special teams play

Penn State All-American and co-captain Devon Still has been named the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 Nittany Lion football team.

Still was presented the Outstanding Senior Player Award to highlight the State College Quarterback Club’s annual banquet honoring the Nittany Lion football team. A crowd of nearly 1,000 packed the main ballroom at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel to honor 23 seniors and the 2011 squad.

The 23 seniors have helped Penn State earn a 38-13 record the past four years, including a Big Ten Co-Championship, and berths in four different New Year’s bowls games.

Still has earned a quartet of first-team All-America accolades in the past week from: Walter Camp Football Foundation, Football Writers Association of America, CBSsports.com and AT&T/ESPN. The 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year, Still is Penn State’s 10th first-team All-American in the past seven years.

Former Nittany Lion All-America linebacker Shane Conlan was presented the Alumni Athlete Award. Penn State’s sixth two-time All-American, he led the Nittany Lions’ 1986 defense with 63 solo tackles en route to a 12-0 record and the national championship. A first round selection by the Buffalo Bills, Conlan was selected the 1987 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The other 2011 State College Quarterback Club award winners were:

John Bruno, Jr. Memorial Award (outstanding member of special teams): senior cornerback/kick returner Chaz Powell. Powell is a Susquehannock High School graduate.

Ridge Riley Award (senior for “sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship”): senior safety Drew Astorino.

Richard Maginnis Memorial Award (outstanding offensive lineman): senior tackle Quinn Barham and senior guard Johnnie Troutman.

Robert B. Mitinger, Jr. Award (senior who exhibits courage, character and social responsibility): senior tight end Andrew Szczerba.

Outstanding Walk-on Award (walk-on player who exemplifies total commitment, loyalty, hard work and courage): senior long snapper Jon Rohrbaugh.

Quarterback Club Special Awards: senior defensive end Jack Crawford, senior wide receiver Derek Moye, senior linebacker Nate Stupar and senior safety Nick Sukay.

The Nittany Lion Club Academic Achievement Award (senior with highest GPA): wide receiver Ryan Scherer.

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