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College Football Recruiting: Bill O’Brien Has Tough Task


When the NCAA handed down the sanctions levied against the Pennsylvania State University, everyone knew it was going to make recruiting incredibly tough.

Tough might be the lightest adjective I can use to describe that situation.

With their immense scholarship reduction, PSU will only be able to offer 15 players instead of 25 from 2013 to 2016.  They will only have 65 scholarships instead of 85 from 2014 to 2017.

Some of you might not think that’s a lot.  Well, it is.  It’s an awful lot.  If you count the natural rate of attrition to a typical class, they are going to have only a handful of recruits every year that actually contribute.

Yes, Head Coach Bill O’Brien will be able to sell playing time to kids.  And this will be one of the few instances where a coach promises you something and he actually delivers.  But that won’t be enough to separate themselves from other schools.

O’Brien has his hands full, no doubt about it.  It would be tough for anyone to recruit there right now, even Nick Saban.  Well, actually, if Saban was coaching the Lions he would probably still have a top 3 class right now, just because he’s Nick Saban.

So let’s take a look at the 11 current commitments the Lions have, and where they will be looking add on.  I’m not going to get into all the recruits that de-committed, because that would essentially be a novel.

QB- Christian Hackenberg- One of the best nationally, but can they hold on to him through signing day?  That’s going to be very tough.

RB- None, and judging on who they’ve offered, that likely won’t change.  O’Brien needs to focus on bringing in players that he actually has a chance of signing.

WR- None, and they will absolutely need one at minimum for depth purposes.

TE- Adam Breneman is also one of the best nationally, but can the Lions hang on to him?  They better hope so, he’s the only one they’ve offered.

OT- Andrew Nelson and Tanner Hartman are on board, and that’s probably where it stops.

OG- Brendan Mahon is an elite guard, and a huge pickup for the Lions.

C-  None, and no one is offered.

DE- None, but the Lions will try to nab one or two down the stretch.

DT- None, same situation as defensive ends.

MLB- Brandon Bell is the lone man, but he’s an excellent pickup.  He fits the mold of the classic Lion ‘Backers.

OLB-None, and this is a position of need.

CB- Jordan Smith and Kasey Gaines are committed.  Gaines is incredibly underrated.

S- Neiko Robinson is a solid pickup, and will probably be the only safety brought on in this class.

Athlete- None but the Lions are going hard after quite a few, they could add one or two.