Big news came down in Happy Valley on Tuesday morning when the NCAA decided to lessen the scholarship sanctions the Penn State football program was facing from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.
Penn State will be able to field a full roster including freshman QB Christian Hackenberg for the 2016 season, the first year the Nittany Lions come off bowl sanctions.
Original sanctions called for Penn State to reduce its allotment of scholarships to 65 by the start of the 2014 season, with no more than 15 going to any class until 2016. The restoration, which will take effect for the next academic year (2014-15), means the Nittany Lions will be able to allot 20 scholarships for the 2014-15 class and 25 the following year. The total number of allowed scholarships will go from 75 for 2014-15, 80 in 2015-16 and 85 in 2016-17.
Long story short, when Penn State comes off bowl sanctions in 2016, in what will be freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg’s senior season, the Nittany Lions will be able to field a full 85-man roster. That’s an overall 20-scholarship profit and allows Penn State to be able to compete at the highest level right away. Original sanctions would have crippled the roster until at least the 2018 season.
"Today's announcement by the NCAA is tremendous news,” O’Brien said. “As a staff, we are especially pleased for our players, who have proven themselves to be a resilient group of young men who are able to look ahead, focus and overcome adversity. Penn State has long been known for graduating its student-athletes and providing them with a world-class education. The scholarship additions will allow us to provide more student-athletes with a tremendous opportunity to earn that degree and play football for Penn State."
With a recruiting class that currently ranks 29th nationally and No. 4 in the Big Ten, Penn State has 12 commits thus far in 2014, and originally only had room for three to four more. With the 20-scholarship cap the Nittany Lions now have room for eight more. Look for O’Brien and his staff to recruit the best available player to add depth to the roster.
Major names on Penn State’s recruiting board includes five-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley, four-star tight end Mike Gesicki, four-star athlete Montae Nicholson, four-star linebacker Brandon Lee and four-star offensive tackle Alex Bookser. More names will certainly pop up and former names will be revisited in light of the recent positive developments.
Ohio State Set For First Big Recruiting Weekend
Four-star WR Johnnie Dixon heads back to Ohio State this weekend for an official visit.
The Buckeyes welcome Wisconsin to Columbus on Saturday evening for the first their first Big Ten game of the season.
Urban Meyer and his staff will also welcome in plenty of talented recruits.
Ohio State laid low on the recruiting visits for its first three home games gearing up for this weekend. Headlining a strong list of visitors are five-star athlete John Smith (JuJu), four-star receivers Johnnie Dixon and Travis Rudolph, Top247 tight end Mike Gesicki and tight end DeAndre Goolsby.
A slew of commits from Ohio State’s No. 2 ranked recruiting class will also be in town, as will a bunch of talented 2015 prospects.
For more on Ohio State’s big recruiting weekend, read Bucknuts247 insider Alex Gleitman’s article here.
Bye Week Sends Coaches On The Road
Many of the Big Ten programs are on their first bye week this week, allowing coaches to get on the road and evaluate prospects.
-Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will see two of the Wildcats biggest targets this week. He was at Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic on Monday to see Top247 defensive end/tight end Garrett Dickerson. On Friday he’s expected to attend the game of Top247 cornerback Parrker Westphal of Bolingbrook (Ill.) High.
Michigan will be in to see five-star DE Da'Shawn Hand this week.
-Michigan’s top target Da’Shawn Hand will see Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Assistant Roy Manning went and saw Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville’s talented duo, four-star cornerback Marshon Lattimore and four-star safety Erick Smith. Wolverine247 has the skinny on more stops from the road.
-Nebraska and Penn State coaches aren’t expected to hit the road until the end of the week. The Cornhuskers could go out to California and check on touted receivers Dallis Todd and Erik Brown, who are currently committed to Oklahoma and Washington respectively. Nittany Lions assistant coach Larry Johnson will be out to see five-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley.
Around The Conference
-District Heights (Md.) Forestville cornerback Marcel Joly committed to Iowa on Monday, just after spending the weekend in Iowa City on an official visit. The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Joly could make an immediate impact for the Hawkeyes as a return man. Joly’s pledge moved Iowa up to No. 48 in the national recruiting rankings, good for No. 8 in the Big Ten.
-Undefeated Minnesota will host three official visitors for its Big Ten opener on Saturday against Iowa. The Gophers will look to make a move with Florida receiver Kendrick Holland. Missouri commit Trevon Walters is coming in. The Gophers were the first major school to jump on Alabama defensive tackle Gary Moore. In-state senior and major target in offensive tackle Frank Ragnow may also attend. In-state 2015 four-star quarterback Ryan Schlichte plans to be there.
-Illinois and Purdue host non-conference home games and news on key visitors will come out as the week continues.