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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Getting to know PSU's ESPN 300 commits

By Josh Moyer

Three Penn State commits are currently ranked in the ESPN 300 -- WR De'Andre Thompkins (No. 54), QB Michael O'Connor (No. 125), WR Chris Godwin (No. 153) -- so NittanyNation wanted to find out a little bit more about the headlining trio.

The same five questions were posed to each commit and ranged from the top reason they picked PSU to their thoughts on their ESPN rankings and what other PSU commit should've made the ESPN 300. Here's what they had to say:

What's the top reason you committed to Penn State?

Thompkins: The top reason was it felt like home. The coaching staff was great -- they informed me of everything a football player would experience at that college. And I clicked with some of the players. They're down to earth and funny; they're not uptight -- but they get the job done. It's just the way they carry themselves. It's like the way I grew up. It's joking and playing around, but a majority of the time it's being focused and getting down to the nitty gritty.

O'Connor: Oh man, I mean I'd probably say the staff, Coach [Bill] O'Brien and Coach [Charlie] Fisher. They played a huge part in my decision. Personally, for myself, it was the best coaching staff overall that I came across in the recruiting process.

Godwin: The main reason that I committed to Penn State was because of the coaching staff. I felt really comfortable with them, and I feel like they can really develop me into the best player that I can be.

What do you think about your ESPN ranking?

Thompkins: To me, it's just a mirror of my hard work, my work ethic and what I've done on the field. It's not really something -- I value it of course -- but it doesn't consume me. I try to put it off to the side and work hard. And when the time arrives, hopefully my hard work shows and that goes up. But it's not something that consumes me or anything.

O'Connor: I really couldn't care less. I don't mean that in a disrespectful way ... but I try not to pay attention. I dropped two spots without really doing anything, so it fluctuates. I think it's great ESPN thinks that highly of me, and that makes me feel good. But I know in the big picture it doesn't mean a lot, so I don't really worry.

Godwin: I was pretty excited about my jump in the ESPN rankings. I'm hoping that it goes up a little more, but I'm pretty satisfied for the time being.

What are your top goals for this season?

Thompkins: It's funny because my mom's friend just asked me the same question. I want to stay healthy. That's the overall goal: Finish the season healthy. Also try to break the catching record that was set by my head coach and take my team to the playoffs and, honestly, win a state championship. Those are my goals.

O'Connor: Well, we don't have playoffs so I can't say state championship or anything. But I want to lead my team to an undefeated season. We play some really good teams, so it'll be tough -- but that's my ultimate goal. I want to limit turnovers, not throw interceptions and just get better at everything. That's the most important thing.

Godwin: This season, my goals are to win another state championship and to be the best teammate that I can be -- especially to the younger players on my team -- as well as work on the little details to improve my game more.

If you could play any other position, what would you pick?

Thompkins: Oh man, I'd probably say quarterback. I don't know; I'd be like a Drew Brees. I wouldn't be throwing it super deep, but I think I'm smart and I can read a lot. Plus, they don't run that much so they wouldn't get as tired as I do. I would like to get that luxury of watching the other guys run. [laughs] Better tell [Christian] Hackenberg I'm coming for his position.

O'Connor: Left tackle. I used to play center when I was like 7 years old, so I've always had a soft spot for O-lineman. I think they get -- it's kind of funny -- because they get paid the big bucks, but they can easily walk around in public without getting noticed. I think that'd be cool. ... And they can eat a lot. And, well, I like to eat.

Godwin: I haven't really thought about playing another position. I've always wanted to play WR, and I really enjoy the art of playing the position. I don't really give other positions much thought.

What's one PSU commit who isn't in the ESPN 300 but you think should be?

Thompkins: Is Marcus Allen in the ESPN 300? Man, I watched his highlight. That man, the way he attacks people and disregards his body, it's insane. I would hate to go against him on the football field, especially being an offensive player and knowing he's waiting to knock your helmet off. That scares people.

O'Connor: Actually, I just met Jared Wangler a few days ago in a combine in Detroit. And he's the first commit that I met, and he's a very classy guy. He deserves to be ranked higher, that's for sure. He'll be one to watch for sure. He's a super classy guy, and that's another reason why I committed to Penn State because my teammates are very respectful and are hard workers just like me.

Godwin: I can't really choose one person. I think that all of our commits have the potential to do great things, but we all have to put the hard work in to get to that point.