- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
Jake Waters' parents ushered Bill O'Brien inside their home on a frigid Monday, escorting him to the dining-room table where a spread of crackers, brownies and water awaited.
The juco quarterback's starstruck younger brother asked the coach for an autograph, and Waters' parents were eager to pepper the Penn Stater with questions: Could the Iowa Western quarterback start there? What were the academics like? Would he fit in OK since PSU doesn't usually take junior college players?
Waters said he's known "for a few weeks" now whom he's leaning toward. He declined to disclose that favorite -- he said he'll announce his decision Thursday -- but he said this in-home visit and Wednesday's upcoming visit with Kansas State's coaches were more for his parents' benefit.
"Him and my parents, they kind of had a business meeting," Waters said with a laugh. "It was pretty much for my parents to get a good feel because they would be a little reluctant to hand me over to someone they've never met, so they thought it was really big that he came and met them face-to-face and had a good conversation."
Waters attended class at 9 a.m., and O'Brien arrived around 10:30. The two chatted at school for a little while, then cut across campus to the coach's car before driving to his Council Bluffs, Iowa, home.
O'Brien's pitch was similar to the one he heard during his official visit to Happy Valley on Nov. 17, but Waters said he appreciated how the coach didn't downplay other schools during the visit. Instead, Waters said one of the most memorable parts came when O'Brien offered him advice about a commitment.
"He said that he's leaving it up to me," Waters said. "He said they've done everything they could, and he just wanted me to go with my gut, whether that's them or another school. He was just saying to go with your gut and what you feel comfortable with. And he said if that's fortunate enough to be him, then that's fine."
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback called the last two months a whirlwind. In September, Waters was a relative unknown. He received an FCS offer after his freshman season, but interest was scarce. This season, schools such as N.C. State, Penn State and Kansas State soon came knocking.
His Twitter followers exploded from about 500 in October to nearly 2,000 in December -- many advising him, with exclamation points and hasthtags, to play for #PSU or #KState.
Texas also recently started showing Waters interest. And, Waters admitted, all indications are that they'd offer if he was interested in going there.
"But, for me being in junior college now, I'm looking for the best situation at QB," Waters added, "and K-State and Penn State are probably the best for me."
Waters said he'll talk over his gut feeling with his parents, to see if they're comfortable with it. He acknowledged the Wildcats have one thing PSU doesn't -- the ability to play in a BCS bowl next season. But the Nittany Lions also have something Kansas State does not -- O'Brien.
"Being from the NFL and dealing directly with one of the best quarterbacks ever, he has that kind of in his backpocket," Waters said.
Waters believed Monday's visit helped clear his mind, but he still plans to talk more about a decision with his parents and coaches before committing. Either way, he said, it hasn't been an easy decision.
"You know, it's gotten a little harder," he said. "But I have a pretty good idea of where I'm leaning right now. I've had some time to sit back and think and kind of have that favorite."
Fans from Kansas State and Penn State eagerly await who that favorite is. They'll find out Thursday.