- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
Parker Cothren (Hazel Green, Ala./Hazel Green) became the Nittany Lions' 13th commitment shortly after his official visit at the PSU-Indiana game.
The defensive tackle will likely bulk up and play the three-technique, the same position Jordan Hill thrived at. He recently spoke with NittanyNation at length about his recruitment, why he chose Penn State and his thoughts on the sanctions.
NittanyNation: Before you committed to Penn State, you were part a member of Purdue's 2013 class. Why the change of heart?
Parker Cothren: We were kind of thinking that Purdue might have a coaching change, and we didn't really want to be involved with all that. I mean, I didn't know if [the new coach] was going to bring in some recruits with him and if I'd lose my spot.
Once I got the Penn State offer to begin with, I started leaning that way because of how big Penn State is. Seeing them on TV growing up -- it just all seemed to happen where it was an easy choice for me. ... They come on TV pretty regularly even living down here.
NN: How did you get past Penn State's sanctions? Was the postseason not a big deal for you?
PC: All of the schools I had offers from, I don't think most made it a bowl game. And, if they did, they weren't playing in front of a bigger crowd than Penn State sees. A bowl game is like a every other game for Penn State.
Just because they can't make a bowl, I was thinking, they still have a stadium that holds 100,000-and-however-many people and they sell out every week. What bowl could you play in front of that would be bigger than that?
NN: Why did you decide to commit to Penn State -- and was there a moment during your official visit where you knew this was the right place?
PC: I liked everything about it -- the coaches, the facilities, the trainers, the players. All the players were really cool, and I just liked it. I felt like I fit in. But I went to the stadium and saw the fans and how crazy they acted and how into the game they were, and that's really what made my decision.
And there was one time I remember when we were in the stadium. And I guess something happened in the game -- I can't remember exactly what happened -- and all the fans started yelling really loud. It was just super loud, and I was just sitting there thinking, 'That's awesome.' I've been to Alabama games, and it was nothing like that. That blew Alabama out of the water.
NN: It's kind of funny you mention the atmosphere because that game had the lowest attendance since the 2001 expansion. Is that kind of a good thing, knowing a "bad crowd" for PSU still has that many people?
PC: Yeah, everyone was telling me since we got there that the students were probably not going to be there because it was Thanksgiving break and how the crowd wouldn't be very big. But from what I saw, the student section was packed and there were only a few slots in the stadium that didn't have people fitting it. So when they told me that was a low attendance, I thought that was even more incredible.
NN: You told me you knew PSU was the right school at that one moment in the stands. So why didn't you commit that day?
PC: Well, I committed not the day after we got back but the day after that. My mom wasn't on the trip with us, so I didn't want to make any decisions without her approval -- and we told the coaches that. We said we'll have to talk to mom.
My dad and my brother were all for it right away -- and my mom liked it, too. My brother thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened because he's the one who sent my film to Coach Larry Johnson and got all this started. I tell him, 'Thank you for that.' I don't know if my film would've gotten to them if it wasn't for him. So I'll have to get him something nice for Christmas.
NN: This recruiting class is going to have to deal with a lot of the sanctions. And, even when you sign your letter of intent, you'll still be able to transfer elsewhere. What would you like to say to fans about that?
PC: I'd like to say one thing. The day I committed to Penn State, it was 6 o'clock that night. That morning [before committing], I had actually gotten an offer from North Carolina. I talked to the North Carolina coach on the phone, and he was saying stuff -- and I told him I planned to talk to Penn State. He said, 'You need to check out North Carolina.' But I told him I wanted to play for Penn State. I wanted to be at Penn State.
This class is full of great guys. They look big, they look strong, and I don't see how anybody can say this isn't a strong recruiting class. I think we got what it takes.
5dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy