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Penn State Football: No Wild West for O'Brien as He Targets 2014 Recruiting Class

by on February 07, 2013 6:20 AM

Less than 24 hours removed from National Signing Day means only the end of a phase of a recruiting process that never truly ends.

For Penn State, relationships forged early on could go a long way toward landing prospects high on coach Bill O’Brien’s recruiting board. With only a handful of scholarships available compared to unsanctioned schools, there is a premium on landing top targets.

National recruiting will get a facelift this summer as the NCAA announced changes last month that allows for limitless communication with recruits through text messages and social media, along with removing all limits on printed recruited materials. Texting limitations have already been lifted for college basketball recruiting.

“The rules are changing,” O’Brien said Wednesday. “Basically they're not changing, they're removing a lot of rules. Less regulations; less regulatory methods. It will change a lot. We're in the process of looking at that right now. Every day we spend part of the day on recruiting, how are we going to handle unlimited text messaging, unlimited visits to schools, whatever it may be.

“We're never going to join the ranks of the wild, wild West, I can promise you that. We're going to do things the right way at Penn State and still try to go out there and try to find Penn State guys. We want tough guys, smart guys, high-character guys. So that's not going to change. Maybe some of the ways we go about doing it have to change because of the less rules.”

Is the no-holds-barred approach to recruiting good for college athletics? O’Brien isn’t ready to make that call.

"I'm just a rookie head coach,” he said. “I don't know. That's probably for somebody else to answer than me. Again, I'm just all about in recruiting, our staff, we're about finding the right fit. Once we find the right fit, developing the relationship where the parents and the prospect, we all feel like we're on the same page as to where we can take this young man when he gets here, academically, socially, obviously football-wise.

“Whether that's good for college football or not, I don't know. I just really want to see how good we can do at Penn State.”

So who might be lucky enough to pick up their phone and have a text from the Penn State coaching staff? Here are five names to keep an eye on in the 2014 class within Pennsylvania borders.

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  • Dravon Henry, RB Aliquippa, Pa. 3-stars on
  • K.J Williams, Bethlehem, Pa. WR 4-stars on
  • Justice Rawlins, Monessen, Pa. MLB 3-stars on
  • Montae Nicholson, Monroeville, Pa. DB 4-stars on
  • Shai McKenzie, Washington, Pa. RB 3-stars on

"The bulk of the roster will come from that 300-mile driving distance [from State College]" O'Brien said. "Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Baltimore, [Washington] D.C., New York.  We have to do a better job in Ohio, that's important,then New England. We'll still get into the South."

"We need to do better in Ohio," recruiting coordinator Charles London said, repeating O'Brien's message. "That's something that I don't think was as much of a focus before. We feel like we need to do a better job in there."

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