Whitehead Wowed by Penn State Visit

Getting to meet the Nittany Lions' new staff was key for the four-star cornerback prospect. He did just that at Junior Day.

Jordan Whitehead was surprised when former Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien left the program. And he didn't know what to think about the Nittany Lions in the days that followed.

He knew he'd have to get to know its new staff, though, and they kick-started that by visiting the corner at Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley in January. He returned the favor by visiting for Junior Day, which helped get his thoughts in order about the program.

"It was good … it was way better than I expected it to be," Whitehead said. "I like all the coaches I talked to, and [head] Coach [James] Franklin was off the charts. Out of a 10, I'll give him an 11.

"I talked to [corners coach] Terry Smith, my position coach, and he was just emphasizing how much he wants me to be a part of the program. They all showed me love."

Smith had previously coached Whitehead when he played on a 7-on-7 team Smith coached when he was a freshman in high school. It meant their meeting was not so much an introduction, but a reunion.

As for the rest of Penn State's staff, it was indeed the first time they and the corner were able to sit down and talk. Whitehead liked what he heard.

"I liked the old Penn State staff, and they all left and made me think whether or not the other staff could be just like them," Whitehead said. "I talked to all the new guys, and it was just a great experience.

"These coaches seem to be like the old ones, and I like that."

Who isn't like coaches he's come across, however, is Franklin. Whitehead went on to say that he noticed an element that the first-year Penn State head coach has that not many others do.

"He's just different," Whitehead said. "He's energetic, and he just seems to always want to win. All coaches want to win, but he's that type of coach that is on the player's level. The way they would have swag, he would have something like that.

"I liked that he had that feel for the players to help them be the best players and people they can be."

Whitehead wasn't ready to name a top five, but he made clear the Lions would have a home in it when he was. He added the itinerary of the day, filled with plenty of things he had seen before, wasn't the best part of his visit to University Park.

Instead, it was the camaraderie with classmates, and potentially future teammates, that stood out most.

"I've pretty much knew everything we went through, but the hockey game we went to, that was a nice arena," Whitehead said. "I think what stood out from that is that when they showed Coach Franklin on the scoreboard, the fans went crazy. They all love you up there.

"But when you go to a Junior Day, even if you've been there, all the juniors get to talk to each other and try to get one another to come there. Just meeting with all the players in your class was and is cool."

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