Nittany Lions lose two recruits

Updated: August 9, 2012, 5:01 PM ET
By Jared Shanker and Josh Moyer | ESPN RecruitingNation

Penn State lost two prospects Tuesday, including its biggest recruit to date since sanctions were levied against the program in late July.

Offensive tackle Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon), No. 27 in the ESPN 150 and a Penn State commitment since June, decommitted from the Nittany Lions on Tuesday evening, his coach, Aaron Krepps said.

"I didn't get into that with him," Krepps said about a specific reason for the decommitment. "We spoke, and he informed me of his decision."

Three-star wide receiver prospect Zach Bradshaw also decommitted and will transfer to Virginia.

Johnson, the No. 2 offensive tackle nationally and No. 2 overall player in Pennsylvania, said he would take his time regarding a decision when sanctions, which include a four-year bowl ban and massive scholarship reductions, were levied against Penn State on July 23.

"I told him to just take his time instead of jumping to a conclusion, wanted to make sure he thought through this, and he's done that very well," Krepps said. "He's deciding to open things back up."

In June, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound tackle committed to the Lions over Ohio State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Johnson was the second highest-rated commitment in the Lions' class behind quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Bradshaw, from Damascus, Md., called Penn State coach Bill O'Brien during breakfast Tuesday morning to inform him of the switch to Virginia. He then hopped in a car with his mother and drove to Virginia's campus, where he later shook hands with the coaching staff and told them he already made a decision: He wanted to become the Cavaliers' 17th commitment.

The decision didn't have anything to do with schools trying to poach him. It didn't have anything to do with other kids decommitting. It had more to do with, 'What will the next four years or five years feel like at Penn State because of the sanctions?'

-- Mike Bradshaw, father of recruit
Zach Bradshaw

"The deciding factor was the magnitude of the sanctions," Bradshaw's father, Mike, told ESPN.com. "With the loss of scholarships, PSU will be competing in the Big Ten against some of the best teams in the country with 65 scholarship players. The class Zach would be a part of would really bear the brunt of the sanctions."

Bradshaw and Johnson became the fourth and fifth Penn State recruits to decommit since the release of the Freeh report.

The snowballing list of decommitments includes defensive tackle Greg Webb (Erial, N.J./Timber Creek), cornerback Ross Douglas (Avon, Ohio/Avon) and receiver Will Fuller (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic), who verbally committed to Notre Dame on Sunday. Webb recently committed to North Carolina, and Douglas switched his pledge to Michigan.

Bradshaw's father said his son was also seriously debating whether to accept offers from Northwestern and South Carolina -- but ultimately decided to choose where he felt most comfortable. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver already knows two players on Virginia through Damascus High School, so building relationships there was never an issue.

"What tipped it toward UVA was really a couple things," his father said. "First, it's a great academic school. Second, it's closer to home and third -- and most importantly -- he felt a great amount of comfort and rapport with the coaches."

An assistant coach at Damascus reached out to several coaches after the Penn State sanctions were announced, but Bradshaw's father said neither Michigan State nor his son's three other finalists directly contacted him to sway his commitment.

"The decision didn't have anything to do with schools trying to poach him," the elder Bradshaw said. "It didn't have anything to do with other kids decommitting. It had more to do with, 'What will the next four years or five years feel like at Penn State because of the sanctions?'"

Bradshaw's father said his son had waffled between sticking with Penn State nearly every day for the past two weeks. The decision wasn't easy, he said, because the younger Bradshaw had great respect for O'Brien, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden.

He tried calling O'Brien on Monday night but couldn't reach him, so he tried again Tuesday morning.

"He took enough time to make sure it was a thoughtful decision," Bradshaw's father added.

Virginia recruited Bradshaw as an athlete, Northwestern as a superback and South Carolina as a receiver.

Jared Shanker

Florida State/ACC reporter

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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