Cohen '50-50' on Terps, Nittany Lions

For the time being, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) offensive lineman Jared Cohen is content to sit back and watch the college football coaching carousel from a distance. He's waiting to see who Maryland hires for its offensive line coaching vacancy, and who Penn State brings in to lead its program.

For the time being, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) offensive lineman Jared Cohen is content to sit back and watch the college football coaching carousel from a distance. Sure, the three-star recruit was a bit flustered when Penn State coach Bill O'Brien opted to take the Houston Texans gig Dec. 31. And sure it didn't help Maryland's situation when offensive line coach Tom Brattan left the program.

But Cohen, who decommitted from Maryland right before Christmas and was set to officially visit Penn State Jan. 24, said he's trying to keep an even keel as both the Terrapins and Nittany Lions fill their respective staffs.

"Obviously I feel some concern not knowing who the coaches are," the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Cohen said. "But there's nothing I can really do about it right now, so I'm going to sit back and watch how everything turns out, including who the Penn Sate coach is, what current coaches will be there, if they keep their O-line coach, and what O-line coach is coming to Maryland."

When Cohen decommitted from Maryland following a late December Penn State offer, the thought was he was all but signed and sealed for the Nittany Lions. But now that O'Brien is gone, he said it's closer to "50-50" between the two schools.

"It's just really tough with the coaching situations," he said. "I don't know my position coach at Maryland, and even if I know the head coach at Penn Satate, I'm not sure if he'll keep my position coach. So I'd say right now they're both pretty even."

Though Cohen is trying to distance himself from the process, he is aware of the reports regarding PSU's next hire. He said he read that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and Tennessee's Mike Munchak are candidates, with Franklin possibly being a front-runner. He said he has not heard any names being bandied about for Maryland's open offensive line coach position.

"I really don't know much about any of [the three PSU candidates] so I can't say one way or the other what I'd think if they were brought in," Cohen said. "I'd have to do more research, talk to them, see what their plans are."

As of New Year's Day, Cohen was still planning on officially visiting Penn State Jan. 24. He already took his Maryland official, along with seven other Terps recruits, back in December.

"I am still planning on [taking a PSU official], but then again things might change. I'm not sure what might happen," Cohen said. "If the coaching situation is such that I don't like what they're doing, maybe I won't go. But right now I'm still leaning towards taking that visit."

Cohen said the Nittany Lions offer came "randomly" during the December open period, when a PSU assistant came through McDonogh and said PSU was looking to bring in another offensive lineman or two. Cohen said the Penn State staff had evaluated his senior film and after contacting his head coach, Dom Damico, decided he'd "be a real good fit."

Though he had been a Maryland pledge since February 2013, Cohen was receptive.

"Penn state football is pretty legendary -- the crowds, the games, the history," Cohen said. "And they were actually the first school to start recruiting me when their O-line coach [Mac McWhorter] contacted my coach about me, though he might not be there anymore depending on how the coaching situation goes.

"So I felt I just had to visit one more time to see if it's right. I haven't been there in awhile. When I was a sophomore I was up for a junior day and then the blue-and-white game, so I wanted to get back and see it again."

The McDonogh lineman insisted he didn't back away from Maryland as soon as Penn State offered. He said his original intention was to stay committed and just take the PSU official in order to "make sure I'm going to the right place."

"I just don't want to have any doubt at all about my choice," Cohen said. "But Maryland didn't want [the visit] to happen. When I approached them about it they said you're either with us or not, so I had to decommit if I wanted to [see PSU]."

Cohen said he harbors no ill will towards Maryland and doesn't feel slighted. He said he understood their rationale and still has a "great relationship" with the staff and coaches. In fact, he plans to be back in College Park for an unofficial trip once UMD hires its offensive line coach.

"[Maryland] talked to me and said once they get their O-line coach they'd like me to go up and hang out with him and get to know him," Cohen said. "I think they plan on getting that coach hired before the dead period ends, so I should be able to get over there in [mid-January]."

Cohen said the two deciding factors in his final decision will be his relationship with the two staffs and his bond with the players. Needless to say, meeting the new Terps' line coach and the new head coach at Penn State (and offensive line coach if McWhorter isn't retained) will be paramount.

"But the player bonds are big too. One thing on my official at Maryland is I had a great bond with the players and I knew a lot of those guys," Cohen said. "So I'll have to see if I have the same type of bond with the Penn State players. I have to see whether it's the same or if I like them more or less [than UMD]. I don't know anyone up there, so it will be a new experience for me."

The McDonogh tackle, who was named first-team all-state this year, said he should have his mind made up right after he takes his Penn State official. That is, if this recruiting game doesn't throw him another curveball.

"If it really comes down to Penn State and Maryland, I'll probably announce right after the [PSU] visit. But if other schools come into the mix, then I don't know," Cohen said. "I'd have to see if I wanted to visit others or not. But if no other schools come in -- and as of right now no other schools have contacted me; I'm not sure if that's because it's the holidays or what -- I'll just decide where I want to go after Penn State. "

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