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Friday, June 21, 2013
NittanyNation mailbag

By Josh Moyer

Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Brian Wess (@bwessfootball) writes: What do you make of the Qadree Ollison offer? Would they take three running backs this class? Would they move Nick Scott to safety? Also, why do you think they just offered him now?

Qadree Ollison
The recent offer to Qadree Ollison presents a possible twist in Penn State recruiting.
Josh Moyer: It was definitely an intriguing move. But let's get the easiest part of your question out of the way first. No, they won't be moving Scott to safety. He's a lot like Dravon Henry in that his value is increased because he plays two positions ... but PSU's taking him for one specific spot. They're not going to move him, especially because he seems to be the better back over Mark Allen.

PSU clearly likes Ollison a lot. It visited him twice in consecutive weeks during the evaluation period, after it basically stopped recruiting other tailbacks following Scott's commitment (i.e. -- Harrisburg RB Rob Martin). The staff knew if it wanted to stay in the race for Ollison, it had to move soon. Ollison is a recruit who doesn't want to slow-play his recruitment, something that would've probably helped PSU out, because he wants it out of the way by September.

So, yes, PSU wants him. But -- and this is key -- I'm told that's only going to happen if Allen can't come back from his torn ACL or he decides to head elsewhere for whatever reason. (The latter obviously being very unlikely.) As of right now, I'm told PSU will not take three running backs in this class. Hence the "non-comittable offer" jargon. Right now, the only way Ollison finds his way in to Penn State is if Allen finds his way out. And Ollison is aware of that.

Nick Johnson writes in am email: What is your take on Bill O'Brien's new contract? Doesn't this make it easier for him to leave Penn State?

Josh Moyer: Honestly, yeah, it does make it easier for him to leave for the NFL. If you take a look at 7(a) in the contract, it states that he'll basically pay back $1.35M less for leaving for the NFL rather than other reasons. (Doesn't have to pay back compensation for media appearances, Nike sponsorship -- but does if he leaves for other reasons.) That's just part of the overall picture, but basically it does make it a lot easier for NFL teams to buy out his contract after this year.

O'Brien has told several 2014 commits -- and all the 2013 commits -- that he'll be in Happy Valley throughout their careers. It would surprise no one when/if O'Brien leaves for the NFL, but it's pretty clear he wouldn't leave for just any NFL gig. And I think the odds right now are that he stays through the sanctions.

Outside of that elephant in the room, he'll be making about $3.3 million total this year. He brought the program back from the brink of destruction, so that seems like a bargain to me. I can't imagine anyone saying he hasn't earned it.

Robert Passaro writes in an email: With the commitment of Jeremiah Clarke to UNC, PSU's primary two targets are Thomas Holley and Ricky Walker. With Holley having a lot of national interest, what is the backup plan for a second DT should Walker be the only eligible DT available? Would you say Walker is about as likely to commit as we all feel Troy Vincent Jr. is?

Josh Moyer: Well, with four spots left, I don't think it's quite a lock yet that PSU will take two defensive tackles. PSU has heavy interest in -- and from -- three DTs right now: Holley, Walker and juco Cory Johnson. I can't see PSU offering another DT unless all others fall through. And even if they all stay with PSU until the end, there's still no guarantee PSU takes two. If someone such as TE Mike Gesicki commits, there wouldn't be room for another DT. I think one DT will have to commit earlier for them to take two.

It could happen, but let's focus on that one DT for now. Earlier this week, I ranked the 10 players -- in order -- of whom I thought had the best shot at committing. Obviously, Vincent was No. 1. But Walker was No. 2. I feel Vincent is a lock, but I can't say the same for Walker -- so I don't think he's "as likely" to commit. I feel that PSU's the front-runner with Walker right now, but the Lions aren't pushing him. PSU would be happy to grab either of those DTs.

The sort-of wild card right now is definitely the juco, Johnson. He told me yesterday that he just got his transcripts the day before, so he'll be sending them in shortly. If his grades are good, he'll get that offer. Johnson told me before that PSU was at the top of his list. And, despite at least one report to the contrary, he clarified Thursday afternoon that was still the case. "No way they'd ever be fourth," Johnson added.