Blue White Illustrated

June 2017 Recruiting Update

Penn State Sports Magazine

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 12

NATE BAUER | N B A U E R @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M J U N E 9 , 2 0 1 7 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 3 It would be a mistake to minimize the loss of a five-star, universally praised quarterback only days aCer his decision to reopen his recruitment. So I'm not going to do that. Justin Fields is a tremendous prospect and by all accounts is a great kid off the field, too. Regardless of whether you're a member of Penn State coaching staff, a Nittany Lion player, a fellow recruit or a fan, Fields' decision was unwelcome news, at minimum, for the first full week in June. I'm also not going to spend time talk- ing about there being other fish in the sea. A program of Penn State's caliber won't spend the next six months blindly scraping the bottom of the barrel for a replacement, especially aCer the suc- cess it enjoyed a year ago. Truly, the Lions will be fine. So instead, this seems as appropriate a time as any to reflect on the position it- self and my relatively brief history cov- ering it at Penn State. The list of starters I've covered in- cludes Anthony Morelli, Daryll Clark, Rob Bolden, Matt McGloin, Christian Hackenberg and Trace McSorley. As people, I've found all of these guys to be generally well-mannered and likable. Still, in surveying the aCermath of Fields' decommitment, I can't help but note the relative frequency with which Penn State's quarterbacks either come up short of their loCy expectations, or far exceed them. As a reference point for the guys I've covered, the top-down order of their final Rivals recruiting rankings is as follows: • Morelli was the No. 12 overall player in the country in the Class of 2004, a five-star prospect who was considered the No. 2 pro-style quarterback. • Hackenberg checked in next, also the No. 2-ranked pro-style QB, and was given five-star status and the No. 24 overall spot in the country. • Bolden was the No. 136 overall player in the country, ranked No. 2 among all dual-threat QBs with a four- star rating in the Class of 2010. • Clark was unranked nationally but was given a three-star rating and was considered the No. 24 dual-threat QB in the country in the Class of 2004. • McSorley finished his outstanding career at Briar Woods with plenty of hardware, but was considered by Rivals to be a three-star, and the 50th-ranked athlete in the Class of 2014. • And last but certainly not least, Mc- Gloin was a walk-on in the Class of 2008 who was unranked at his position and did not appear on the national or state lists. He was also given no stars. Trying to compare statistics or indi- vidual performances from these guys, especially given the radically different circumstances that have evolved with the Penn State football program in the past 11 seasons, would be a fruitless en- deavor. It's a team game, aCer all. And what's more, each year is unique. At Penn State, a series of catastrophic events have had a monumental impact on the team's overall performance from 2012 onward. But in my 11 seasons of covering Penn State football, I can easily point to the quarterbacks who were the most fun to write about and follow. As a reporter, I don't have a horse in the race. I simply pull from the old media playbook of rooting for stories, not wins or losses or individual successes or fail- ures. It's not that great stories don't or can't exist when a team is going through a rough patch; they absolutely can exist, but the quest for objectivity does not negate the reality in this profession that a winning team makes for a generally happy fan base, which makes my job easier and more enjoyable. The sample size is admittedly limited, but Clark, McSorley and McGloin im- mediately jump out as the best or most fun stories of the bunch. Morelli had plenty of challenges not of his own doing, Bolden was plainly given the reins before he was ready, and Hackenberg was thrust into as volatile and thankless a job as existed in college football for his three seasons as a starter with the Nittany Lions. Still, Clark's ascension beginning with his breakout performance in the Alamo Bowl, followed by a Rose Bowl appear- ance in the 2008 season, back-to-back All-Big Ten campaigns and a Silver Football MVP season in 2009, was a re- markable story. McSorley has seen just one season of starting action with two years of eligi- bility remaining, but his story has simi- larly taken on a remarkable trajectory. Last season, in the wake of Hacken- berg's early departure for the NFL, Mc- Sorley engineered a stunning Big Ten championships season that included an upset of No. 2 Ohio State, a title game MVP performance, a Rose Bowl berth and multiple individual records. He'll enter his upcoming redshirt jun- ior year at Penn State as a preseason Heisman contender along with team- mate Saquon Barkley. He'll be at the helm of what is likely to be a preseason top-10 team with College Football Play- off aspirations. And McGloin, now preparing for his fiCh NFL season – this one with a new team, the Philadelphia Eagles – may not have produced the same level of team success as either McSorley or Clark, but he remains one of the most improbable success stories in the program's history. None of which is to say that Penn State should change its recruiting strategy to avoid four- and five-star elite quarter- backs in favor of scrappy underdogs. James Franklin and his staff will contin- ually seek out top-level players, both in terms of their skill and their character. But as the program turns to its next moves on the quarterback recruiting front, its most recent history strongly suggests winning, feel-good stories can still be found from the position – highly rated or not. Rankings don't always tell the whole story

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue White Illustrated - June 2017 Recruiting Update