Recruits, Coaches Talk Restored Scholarships

Prominent recruits and high school coaches from the East Region share their thoughts on the NCAA's decision to restore some of Penn State's scholarships.

The NCAA's decision to restore some of Penn State's scholarships for the 2014 class and allow the football program to get back to NCAA-maximum 85 earlier is being met with excitement by prominent high school prospects and head coaches.

From Manahawkin (N.J.) Southern Regional tight end prospect Mike Gesicki to Erial (N.J.) Timber Creek four-star class of 2015 cornerback Kareem Ali to some of the areas prominent high school head coaches, the response has been overwhelmingly supportive.

"That's huge for that program and the football family," said Gesicki, who will officially visit for the Oct. 12 Michigan game. "But that does not affect my Penn State decision. I have seriously considered that program as a place for my destination before this came out, and it does not affect me and my choice."

Gesicki made an unofficial visit to Rutgers this past weekend and will make an official visit to Ohio State this weekend.

Southern Regional is the alma mater of Penn State linebacker Glenn Carson, and Southern Regional coach Chuck Donahue Sr. said he is pleased to see some of the scholarships restored.

"There was a crime committed. Everybody understands (it was) a terrible, horrific crime," Donahue said. "I never understood what they were trying to do. It just seemed like it was way, way, way overdone as far as punishment to the current program. …If you followed Penn State last year and the way they conducted themselves, the way they handled themselves both on the field and off the field regarding the terrible thing that happened, they certainly deserve reconsideration and lessening of the sanctions."

Originally, the NCAA slashed Penn State's scholarship total to 65 for the 2014 season, and it was to remain that way through the 2017 season, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. There was also going to be a limit of 15 scholarships awarded in each class.

However, the NCAA is now allowing Penn State to give 20 scholarships for the 2014-15 season (75 overall limit for the roster), and then 25 each of the next two years (80 total). They will be allowed to return to 85 scholarship players for the 2016 season.

"This is great," Ali texted to "Bringing the history of PSU back!!"

Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson was also delighted by the news.

"I think it's great for their program," Hinson said. "They've been able to grab some pretty high quality guys with only a few scholarships available. If they're able to continue to grab the high quality guys, those additional scholarships will make the sanctions even more bearable and lessen the drop off or negative effects of it."

Shawn O'Connor, the coach at Brooklyn's Lincoln High and four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who is considering Penn State, is glad to see the Nittany Lions have more scholarships available.

"That is a great thing for New York City," he said. "They always recruit in our area hard and it can open doors for more players in the area."

Another prominent coach, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic's Chris Partridge, said the restoration of some scholarships will help kids.

Five-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers and offensive tackle Juwan Bushell-Beatty, both of whom are committed to Michigan, showed interest in Penn State before making their decisions. And while both are solid with the Wolverines, Paramus Catholic continues to churn out talent and is deep in several of the classes.

"I think it's great that they will get their scholarships back," Partridge wrote in an email. "I never believed a new staff should be punished for what an old staff has done. I think the NCAA should go after the coaches and athletic directors financially for violations. Ultimately, when you take away scholarships it hurts the kids who could have earned those scholarships.

"In Penn State's case, the matter was criminal and the involved parties faced criminal charges. I'm not sure why the NCAA felt the need to penalize the University and program any further when the violation was from past staff members. It's great news that five more young men will be able to be scholarship football players this year! Hopefully, one will be a Paladin!"

Steve Devlin, coach of Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood, home of 2015 offensive tackle Ryan Bates, also liked the news.

"I am happy for Penn State, coach (Bill) O'Brien and all of the players," he said. "They had nothing to do with the situation."

Millville (N.J.) High defensive tackle Antoine White, who committed to Penn State in the summer, thinks it will facilitate more competition at his future school.

"I think it is great," he said. "It will open up the competition as they continue to battle in the Big Ten. It is a great start to making Penn State the same powerhouse they have been known for."

Finally, Flemington (N.J.) Hunterdon Central and linebacker commit Jason Cabinda, who is being courted by Penn State but said earlier this month he was not offered by the Nittany Lions because of the scholarship reductions, said he remains "100 percent committed" when he learned of the news.

"It doesn't bother me in any way," Cabinda said. "They have moved on from what happened and are doing well under coach O'Brien, and will continue to do well. I'm very fond of their program."

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