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College Football Recruiting: Penn State Hoping to Expand Their Roots

Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

Penn State recruiting has obviously taken a hit since the NCAA sanctions were released this past July. The sanctions cap the number of recruits that the Nittany Lions can sign to 15 annually for the next four seasons, including this year’s class. Most teams can sign 25 recruits each season but that’s just one of the many concessions that Penn State has to deal with after the sanctions were handed down.

Despite the sanctions Penn State is still hitting the recruiting trail hard and it was reflected in this year’s solid, top-30 ranked group of players. However, after evaluating their 2013 class Bill O’Brien and staff want to focus on recruiting outside the general vicinity of State College.

13 of the 17 players in Penn State’s 2013 class were from a six-hour radius (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Ohio) surrounding Happy Valley. Only four players from the class were outside of that general area: Parker Cothren (Alabama), Neiko Robinson (Florida), Kasey Gaines (Georgia) and Tyler Ferguson (California).

O’Brien is well aware of their lack of diversity in his recruiting pipelines so his future classes will see an emphasis on expanding their territory. Most importantly they will try to secure more roots in the state of Ohio, which is rich in football talent. Besides the fact that sanctions restrict the number of scholarships they can extend, recruiting in Ohio against Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes will be very difficult but they know that the interest is there.

Will they have success recruiting Ohio? They should considering some of the past players from the state that had success at Penn State. Guys like Ki-Jana Carter and O.J. McDuffie ventured across the state border to play for the Nittany Lions.

Besides trying to recruit Ohio harder Penn State’s staff will focus on recruiting the South. Maintaining a solid southern presence will be vital during this tough stretch so that once the sanctions are lifted they will remain well-known.

Recruiting quality players will be an issue as long as the sanctions are around but with that said Penn State didn’t seem to have much of a problem in 2013.