Hey everybody! Welcome back to the weekly PSU chat. Hope everybody's doing well -- who's got the first question?
Do Penn state have chance to get Robert Foster?
Put simply: No. He's not a guy that's really on the radar now. At wideout, PSU would love to have DaeSean Hamilton -- who will be on his official visit this weekend. He hasn't been to PSU before, so it should be an important one. And, of course, there's Brian Lemelle, too.
With about five remaining scholarships left for 2013, which recruit will the staff hold out for?
Well, first of all, I don't think they'll use all five just in case someone unforeseen bolts in the offseason and leaves them especially shallow at a position. But I think they're trying to win over a couple guys -- David Williams, Myles Willis, Tyler Boyd -- and I think they'll hold out for one of them.
With Penn State looking to be under the required 65 sholarship players on a roster for next year, would the ncaa adjust the 65 limit from the years 2014-2017 to 2013-2016.
This is a VERY good question -- and it's one I've been wondering myself -- because it seems that PSU is actually trying to put itself below 65 next season. The NCAA just assumed that PSU would need two years just to get under 65, so I think there really is a very good possibility that those sanctions could start in 2013. PSU's done a pretty great job following all of the Freeh Report's recommendations ... so you've got to think the NCAA will give them some kind of break. Never know for sure with Emmert though; lots of double-standards there in the NCAA.
Will Bill Belton transfer? I thought he was supposed to be really good this season but he didn't get any playing time so I couldn't really blame him.
Well, if there's two guys I'm keeping track of this offseason, it's Belton and Dukes. You might remember Dukes already openly talked about declaring for the NFL draft ... which I'm sure O'Brien told him was a terrible idea. Still, Dukes could transfer elsewhere -- I think he's everybody's first guess -- and Belton's a wildcard. He was supposed to get 20-25 carries a game this season, but that obviously didn't pan out ... so you have to wonder where his mind's at. That being said, I'm not sure what he's thinking. His best friends are at PSU, but PSU's also bringing in some other similar RBs. I don't think he wants to leave now ... but I think things could change if he gets buried on the depth chart in the spring.
Other than today's Pitt news, what are you hearing in regards to future schedule announcements?
I'm told they're working on a few things, so there could be more announcements in the future. Obviously, the most-talked about schedule change is the addition of a 13th game -- Hawaii. O'Brien talked earlier in this season how he knew it was impossible to get that 13th game in 2012 ... but he was aiming to have it good to go by 2013, possibly 2014.
Anything new on Boyd? Didn't he have an in home visit with some PSU coaches yesterday?
PSU did visit him yesterday, and I haven't talked to him since that meeting. But, before that, Penn State was his No. 6 school and he didn't plan on visiting. Boyd's a long-shot for PSU; the favorite is definitely Pitt. One of his teammates is already going there, another just received an offer and will likely go there -- so it seems natural that Boyd would go there, too. I think PSU has a better shot with David Williams or Myles Willis.
Is Jake Waters still coming to Penn STate?
Well, for the record, he never said he was before. But, obviously, it was looking pretty good for PSU for a little while. Our Texas guy spoke to him last night, and he's considering the Longhorns now, too. He'll be on his K-State official visit today and he'll decide by next week whether to visit Texas. I guess he changed his mind, as well, and decided to already go to N.C. State on a visit. I was surprised when he told me that ... PSU plans to pay him a home visit, but it's definitely gotten a lot harder in the past week for PSU to land Jake Waters.
I know David Williams and Tyler Boyd didnt list PSU as their favorites; but what are the chances PSU lands one of them, they're both skilled players PSU could use. I personally think Boyd would be a more valuable recruit for the team. Your thoughts?
I agree with you in that Tyler Boyd would add more. He's a great athlete, a little like Eugene Lewis, but I don't know if PSU has a 10 percent chance at landing him. Williams is a bit of a different story in that he's had a bad run of luck choosing finalists; mos teams seem to have coaching changes or other things popping up. He's been to ASU already (I think he might have a friend there ...) and South Carolina's also playing a large role in his recruitment. I'll be talking to Williams this weekend, so stay tuned ...
Could you speak more about Myles Willis? I'm not too familiar with him.
He's a three-star athlete out of Georgia and PSU's recruiting him as a cornerback. He'd be a great addition to PSU, and he just recently re-opened his recruitment although he remains a Boston College commit. The only reason he's considering PSU right now is because of Ted Roof's reputation (former Auburn D.C., Georgia boy) ... but he told me he's open to visiting Penn State.
If Waters does go to Penn State tho than will Bench transfer? He cant be happy about another qb
Actually, I spoke to Bench's father last week -- and he tells me his son is absolutely fine with it. He told me that unprompted. Bench is going to be here for the long haul -- he always wanted to play for a big school -- and he'll be competing for the starting job. PSU desperately needs another QB on the roster so even if Waters doesn't commit to PSU, you can bet another juco QB likely will.
If Waters does chose PSU does that result in a redshirt for Hack?
I think it does. Hackenberg has a lot of potential and raw talent, obviously, but he didn't have the most complicated playbook in high school -- and it's going to take him a while to adjust to PSU's. Even if he's a fast learner, it will be difficult for him to unseat two more-experienced guys, one who will have a full season of getting to know that playbook and another who will have an entire spring. History says pocket-passers can't come in their freshman years and be great right away -- especially if they don't enroll early. Even Matthew Stafford struggled quite a bit in that rookie campaign ...
Any chances any of this years receivers convert to DB since we are pretty thin in the secondary?
That's a good question, but it's a little too early to add any certainty to it. My understanding is O'Brien will address the media in the next week or two, and that will definitely be a question that gets asked. With Eugene Lewis expected to play more of a role at receiver next year, that could open the door for a WR or two to move to the secondary. Alex Kenney is a choice that comes to mind for me -- just because he was so ineffective at WR this season. Moseby-Felder stepped up, and he's got speed so I would think that means Kenney wouldn't be needed as much. But I'm sure that's something that's going to be decided at a much later date.
As I understand it the more kids that enroll early the more kids they can take this year. Is there a limit to this due to how many kids we took last year? Basically can they use this as a loophole every year of the sanctions to take more than the 15?
No, it's basically this year only. The sanctions are pretty confusing ... but here's how it's worked: As you know, there's a limit of 15 scholarships on the 2013 class. But that limit wasn't in place for 2012, right? Well, those early enrollees -- Breneman, Smith, Anderson -- actually count toward the 2012 numbers because they'll be enrolled in January. So that's kind of the mini-loophole this year, but it'll be closed by next.
With Malcolm Cook opening his recruitment back up, do you expect PSU to offer?
It's tough to say just because they already have two safeties in Kasey Gaines and Neiko Robinson ... but I think Cook is better than either of them. PSU needs a CB right now, and Neiko's coach told me there's a chance Neiko could move to corner. If that's the case and PSU's comfortable with it, there's no reason not to offer Cook. The problem, Cook told me, is the sanctions do kind of get to him a little bit. That's hurting PSU's chances, but PSU visited his school earlier this week.
WILL PSU BE BETTER NEXT SEASON? WITH HACKENBERG, I THINK THEY HAVE THE TALENT
Well, I highly doubt Hackenberg will start next year ... but -- and I said this last week -- I do not think they'll be better next season. It's going to be difficult to replace the efficiency of Matt McGloin. He led this offense, read defenses well and didn't turn the ball over often. I don't know who the leader will be on offense next season; I don't know who will step up and be that fiery, vocal guy. That's important, and I just think the passing game won't be as good ... and obviously that played a vital role in PSU's success this season.
Who do you think will be the starting quarterback next season?
At this point, it's obviously Bench's job to lose. Above everything else, O'Brien needs a smart quarterback -- and that's exactly what Bench is. He doesn't have the tools Hackenberg has or the experience a juco guy might, but he's probably the best option. Now, if Jake Waters commits, that could be an interesting battle. Waters had something crazy this year like 39 TDs to 3 INTs, and it's difficult to ignore that kind of production. If he grasps this playbook, he'll play ahead of Bench. But that's a big "if." However, if Waters chooses to commit elsewhere, I think Bench is very close to a lock. No other juco QB has as much talent as Waters.
Will Sam Ficken still be our kicker next year?
If you asked me this from Weeks 1-6, I would've told you absolutely not. Now? I'm not so sure. He still can't be counted on to attempt field goals longer than 40 yards, and I'm sure O'Brien will at least bring in one preferred walk-on to compete for the kicking and punting jobs. Ficken improved more than Butterworth ... but, that being said, I think Ficken will have a much shorter leash next year if O'Brien can bring in a kicker he likes.
O'Brien ans his staff have shown the ability to recruit quality players. And as the years go on, the sanctions will be less significant in terms of the bowl ban, which is currently swaying recruits. Do you think that less years on the ban as we go on will result In more high quality talent committing to PSU in years 14-15?
Oh, absolutely. Some recruits -- like Zach Bradshaw, who decommitted -- were concerned PSU would be lousy because of the sanctions. O'Brien showed that's not going to be a big issue, so most recruits no longer think of that as an issue. But the bowl ban? That remains an issue. I talked to a 2014 kid from the state of Michigan, and he still mentioned missing two bowls as a big con for PSU. Some 2014 recruits still look at missing two bowls as half their careers, and four- and five-star recruits have difficulty looking past that. It may not be a deciding factor, but it's certainly a mark against PSU. But 2015? Missing just one bowl? That can't be a big deal; redshirt and you'll still play IN four bowls.
WHO WILL BE NEXT YEAR'S MVP ON PSU?
Hmmm ... man, I wish I had more time to think about this. But the first name that comes to mind is Zach Zwinak. Allen Robinson is a great player, but can he put up better stats with a different QB? I don't know. Zwinak seems like somewhat of a safer choice just because he was so consistent this season in terms of falling forward and gaining so many yards. If he can get his mild fumble problem under control, he could be even better.
With the addition of Rutgers and Maryland how do you think the conference will look?
Weaker ... I mean, if you're talking about how the divisions will look, it would make more sense to restructure the alignment on an East-West basis -- but that's something Delany said will be figured out later. MSU's AD recently said he sees the conference expanding to 16 teams, so I think we can expect to see more shake-ups within the next year or two. But, overall, the additions were all about making TV money. And people forget that TV's kind of a dying medium because of the Internet. What makes the Big Ten stronger today or in five years could very well lead to its downfall in 25 years.
Do you think Dorian Johnson's decommitment a few months back was a big deal? We're losing I believe 1 or 2 starting offensive lineman. Have we recruited anyone on the line who has ability like Johnson?
Well, Johnson was kind of in a class of his own. He was one of ESPN's top-rated linemen in the nation ... but PSU still has some other good prospects. Brendan Mahon and Andrew Nelson are both four-star guys, and they're no slouches. PSU's offensive line should be fine with Mac McWhorter running things and Fitz bulking them up. So I don't think offensive line is much of a concern right now. They're deep there, too, so Johnson's decommitment doesn't sting as much as it could have.
Everybody talks about Bill O'Brien. But who do you think the best recruiter is on staff?
On the old staff, hands-down, it was Larry Johnson. Now I think I might have to go with Ted Roof, just because of his Southern connections. He's a name that kids in Georgia and Alabama know, and he has a reputation that high school coaches there are well aware of. His name alone has opened a few doors -- such as Myles Willis, whom we discussed earlier -- and he's been able to work his connections, find some under-the-radar kids and has really added a whole other dimension to PSU's recruiting. At this juncture, I really think he's the most valuable recruiter that PSU has.
I know we talk about this every week, but if nobody transfers which I doubt happens. We will only be able to take five scholarship players next year, right?
Not sure where you're getting that. But PSU will only be able to sign 15 kids in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. When that 65-scholarship limit kicks in, PSU can't go past that. So if PSU has 55 scholarship players then yeah, you're right, it'll only be able to sign 10 instead of 15. I didn't calculate how many seniors are leaving next year -- maybe you did -- but I'd still be very surprised if there were just five openings available. I know PSU is planning for more than that.
With Hill and Stanley graduating, how do you think the DL looks next year?
With Larry Johnson at the helm, I'm sure it'll be just fine. Deion Barnes is obviously the headline here, but Anthony Zettel and C.J. Olaniyan are pretty darn good, too. The key for this DL will be how the interior looks. DaQuan Jones wasn't exactly dominant this year ... and he'll be a starter along with Baublitz or Johnson.
OK, guys, that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for joining us, and I hope to see you all next week. Thanks!