Penn State fan or not, it’s hard not to empathize with the university. Once a symbol of a timeless football tradition and continued stability, Penn State is now vilified. The cloud of Jerry Sandusky’s disgusting crimes and high-ranking university officials’ poor judgment will swirl around the campus for years to come.
The football program is left crippled. Barring a miracle, the immediate future of the Nittany Lions is in serious jeopardy. The NCAA is expected to announce severe penalties against Penn State in the coming days, which might even be more severe than the death penalty. In addition, Joe Paterno, who had built and later molded the Nittany Lions into a national contender, no longer roams the sidelines. Bill O’Brien, the former Patriots’ offensive coordinator, is the head coach.
Perhaps most important, the Sandusky scandal might cause football players to leave Penn State. Top recruits have already expressed worries about the incoming penalties and general uncertainty surrounding the program. Four-star recruit defensive lineman Greg Webb, for example, announced his decision to de-commit from Penn State in the last 24 hours. He joins a growing list of recruits who cut ties with the university, three of whom withdrew in December 2011.
Sadly, the rest of college football won’t mourn for Penn State, especially on the recruiting trail. While the Nittany Lions used to attract players from around the country, the majority of recruits came from nearby states. Penn State often looked toward Pennsylvania and New Jersey for many of its commitments.
One beneficiary could be the Terps, who heavily recruit from Maryland and Washington D.C. In fact, 13 of the Terps’ 25 commitments in the Recruiting Class of 2012 are from the area. Penn State, however, has robbed the Terps of other elite talent from the region for years. For instance, DeMatha graduate and current Dolphins’ Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake went to Penn State.
Randy Edsall is entering only his second season in College Park. His predecessor Ralph Friedgen struggled to recruit the area’s best players, but Edsall has already shown an ability to attract top prospects in the region, such as four-star athlete Stefon Diggs from Good Counsel. Penn State’s problems, then, should allow Edsall to recruit even more effectively in Maryland and Washington D.C.
Furthermore, Edsall’s recent strides in recruiting indicate that he can attract top prospects in other states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In the past, Penn State feasted on these states to bolster its recruiting classes, but Maryland could soon have the chance to replace the Nittany Lions both on the recruiting trail and, later, on the field as the region’s football powerhouse.