Two prized Penn State recruits already have backed away from their verbal commitments and will go elsewhere, due to the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal hanging over the football program and the uncertainty over the Nittany Lions’ next head coach.
More decommits may be on the way.
Until the focus shifts to the future instead of the ugly recent past, national recruiting analysts believe it will be difficult for the Nittany Lions to turn things around.
“They’re going to need someone to come in and re-invigorate the fans,” said Scott Kennedy, director of scouting for Scout.com. “In today’s society, I don’t think this is as program-killing as people have talked about. Not to minimize what’s been going on there, but I just don’t think this is akin to a death penalty.
“However, I do think in the short term it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
What was at one time considered a solid class of prospects — possibly among the 10 best in the nation — has no choice but to pin its future on the reassurance of what is expected to be a lame-duck coaching staff.
Meanwhile other programs are taking advantage of the lingering questions surrounding Penn State to spirit away players.
Five-star defensive tackle prospect Tommy Schutt from Glen Ellyn, Ill., announced on Monday he was taking back his commitment to Penn State and now says he’s headed to Ohio State.
Offensive lineman Joey O’Connor, of Windsor, Colo., also has reversed his thinking and now says he will not go to Penn State. He’s still considering his options.
One major reason for the defections is the stigma of the charges that Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach who retired in 1999 but still had an office at the school long after, allegedly abused young boys.
The Sandusky allegations led to the firing of coach Joe Paterno on Nov. 9, along with the departure of other top athletic department officials.