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Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Early Offer: More success for O'Brien

By Jeremy Crabtree

The Early Offer is a RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: The news that Penn State is having scholarships restored by the NCAA will give Nittany Lion coach Bill O’Brien even more opportunities to showcase recruiting skills; Highland CC DE Joe Keels is quickly climbing the charts, just like his team; and FSU addressed a need at TE thanks in part to star quarterback Jameis Winston.

Big opportunity for O’Brien
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien had already proven he was one of the nation’s best recruiters when the Nittany Lions’ 2013 class finished at No. 24 in the class rankings and followed it up this year with a class that ranks at No. 25. The ability to attract talent like he has with all of the restrictions placed on his staff was impressive. But when the news broke Tuesday that the NCAA will reduce its sanctions against Penn State by gradually restoring scholarships starting next season, Happy Valley certainly became a lot happier. The news gives O’Brien an immediate opportunity to build an even better 2014 class, and I fully expect him to make the most out of it. One Big Ten assistant told me that this “makes Penn State relevant again with some of the Midwest’s top uncommitted players.”

High rising Highland DE
One of the most meteoric rises this season in the junior college ranks is defensive end Joe Keels and his team at Highland (Kan.) Community College. The Scotties are normally one of the doormats of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, but they’re 3-1 in conference play and own an upset over six-time national champion Butler Community College. During that same stretch Keels has quickly become one of the hottest recruits in juco football with coaches attracted to his 6-foot-4, 280-pound frame. He reports 23 scholarship offers with Wisconsin, his childhood favorite school, leading the way and USC pushing him hard.

Winston helps FSU land TE
Florida State addressed one of its biggest needs for 2014 with the addition of three-star tight end Ryan Izzo (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII). Izzo committed to Florida State over finalists Rutgers and Wisconsin, and he said a big reason why was because of the emergence of QB Jameis Winston. “Being able to see all the potential and all Jameis Winston has shown early on, him being a redshirt freshman, that influenced my decision because he’s going to be the man to get me the ball,” Izzo said.