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Wednesday, October 16, 2013
One win shows PSU recruits bright future

By Brad Bournival

It is extremely rare when one football game can make a big impact during a rising high school star’s long recruiting process.

Saturday’s 43-40 quadruple-overtime win by Penn State over Michigan might be that exception.

While all of the 2015 commitments still have 16 months left before they can sign a national letter of intent, those in attendance said some big things days after witnessing the big win by the Nittany Lions.

Targets in this year’s class like ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) and three-star tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) were on official visits and were wowed. Syracuse commit Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) came away impressed as well.

But the junior class and beyond were the ones absolutely floored by the visit.

Bill O’Brien’s success in his sanction-filled tenure so far is a selling point, but games like Saturday's win are what recruits are still buzzing about. Well, that and the possibility of playing for the Nittany Lions in the future.

ESPN Junior outside linebacker Chris Green (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) said something that resonated throughout much of the class.

“I think it’s gonna be hard to impress me after that show,” Green said on Tuesday. “Maybe I feel like that because it’s my first college game or that I just liked Penn State, but it was great. I loved the experience. I definitely leaned more towards them from that.”

Green wasn’t the only big name at the game as a dozen ESPN Junior 300 prospects walked away feeling the same way.

Penn State
Penn State players celebrate after their overtime win over Michigan.
Some of them tweeted “we” when talking about Penn State during the game, while others sent out pictures on Instagram.

All of them wanted to talk about and probably still are talking about the Nittany Lions.

Targets like running back Andrew Dowell brought along his father and ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver and twin brother David (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward).

The only one not being recruited by Penn State is dad and there wasn’t a Dowell in the family who didn’t feel a lot closer to the Nittany Lions after Saturday.

“It was ridiculous,” Andrew Dowell said. “We’ve never been a part of something like that. It’s probably the greatest game we’ve been to with four overtimes and all.

“It was a great experience as we got to be a part of possibly the Big Ten game of the year, but also further our recruitment with Penn State.”

From standout juniors like inside linebacker Reagan Williams (Jackson, Ohio/Jackson) to Irvin Charles (Haddonfield, N.J./Paul VI), just about every recruit left feeling a little closer to Penn State.

Even players like ESPN Junior 300 stars Brandon Wimbush (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep) and teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick, who had to scratch plans at the last second because of a team practice, were talking about the future in Happy Valley.

“The game shows how the team doesn’t quit and is willing to fight for the people beside them, one day you can be that guy,” Penn State pledge and ESPN 300 senior De’Andre Thompkins said.

That message rang loud and clear among the nearly 100 recruits visiting. Not just for Saturday, but the future as well.