- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Jeannette, Pa., safety Demetrious Cox had Penn State high on his list for a while before scandal rocked the program in early November. Cox never dropped the Nittany Lions, but they were in a holding pattern among Cox’s leaderboard.
This past weekend, Cox, a four-star prospect, had an opportunity to meet the new staff for the first time, and he liked what he saw and heard from the new coaches.
“It went good,” Cox said. “I talked to the new coaches and liked the vibe I was getting and the direction they’re talking about going in. It was overall a good visit.”
Cox’s lead recruiter was originally Tom Bradley, a beloved Western Pennsylvania figure who was let go by new coach Bill O’Brien after serving as interim coach for the final four games of the 2011 season. When Bradley was named coach, Kermit Buggs took over Cox’s recruitment, but he too was not retained by O’Brien.
Larry Johnson, a holdover from the old staff, defensive backs coach John Butler and defensive coordinator Ted Roof spent the most time with Cox this weekend. The Lions’ secondary does not have much experience returning, and the new coaches expressed to Cox a desire to add a safety to the 2012 class.
“They were saying they liked everything about me,” Cox said. “I fit in with what they need, which is at safety right now. I can come in and play and be a leader.”
Cox, the top uncommitted prospect in Pennsylvania, also sat down with O’Brien for a one-on-one conversation.
“I’m getting a positive feel from coach O’Brien,” Cox said. “He’s not going to change the tradition but build off of it.”
However, Cox still has some concerns about the uncertainty surrounding the program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
“The only question I still have is how the season is going to go with them,” said Cox, who said the subject did not come up this weekend. “I’m not really sure yet.”
The Penn State visit was Cox’s second to State College this season and second official visit overall. He will make two more visits, and he said they will go to either Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin.