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Penn State Football: 2013 Recruiting Class Not Short on Leaders

by on April 22, 2012 7:40 AM

If you didn’t know who they were, Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg would have blended in with all of the other recruits who made the journey to Happy Valley on Saturday for the Blue-White Game.

But when it came time for a moment of leadership, there was no doubt who was in charge.

“Come here, David!” Breneman shouted to David Williams, Penn State’s top running back target for the 2013 class. 

Williams, out of Imhotep Charter School in Philadelphia, wore a shirt that pays homage to the 125 years of Penn State football. Smiling, Williams found his place next to Hackenberg and Breneman, laughing as one of them refers to Williams as “No. 9”, a joking nod that Williams’ commitment to Penn State would make him the ninth recruit in the 2013 class.

As the final picture is taken and the group disperses, a fan leaned over the railing to ask for an autograph, congratulating Breneman on his decision to attend Penn State.

While many recruits manage to finish off their high school careers with a certain level of anonymity with the average fan, Breneman and Hackenberg have quickly become the faces of not only a strong recruiting class but the recovery of Penn State’s image.

It's a humbling task for any person, let alone two athletes a year shy of the right to vote. Even so, as members of the 2013 class gathered for yet another picture, it was clear that they all were in it for each other, and that their bond was genuine.

Only 20 yards from the future of Penn State, former Nittany Lion and all-time leading receiver Deon Butler stood alone at the corner of the end zone.

“It seemed just like yesterday,” Butler said quietly, as if he was replaying his career over again in his mind. “It’s great to be back here.”

Butler, originally a walk-on cornerback at Penn State, was part of the resurgence that saw Penn State rebound from years of losing seasons back to the national stage in 2005. 

While Butler was not the marquee figure in his class at the time, what he and fellow teammates Derrick Williams and Justin King represented were players willing to take a chance on a program in need.

Much like Breneman, Hackenberg and a growing list of nationally ranked prospects who have pledged to play for Penn State when the image and reputation of the university was at an all-time low.

Moving forward, the story of the 2013 class will continue to unfold. Players will join the group, and some may depart, but in the end it is already apparent that this class will leave it's mark on Penn State.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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