Previously, we reviewed how he is making the rounds to build bridges with high school coaches around the region. However, more important to the immediate needs of the PSU program is how he's making an impression with high school prospects.
Closing Out the 2012 Class
In terms of the Class of 2012, O'Brien impressed the bulk of recruits enough to convince them to stick with the Nittany Lions through an incredibly trying period. As Ohio OL Anthony Stanko said, "I like him a lot. I think he has a great passion for the job."
"[He] had his heart and his mind in the right places moving forward," explained New Hampshire DB Jake Kiley.
Maryland DL Brian Gaia simply said, "I am just really excited to play for him."
But what about prospects in the Class of 2013?
Laying the Foundation
Four-star Pennsylvania LB Alex Anzalone talked about meeting O'Brien at PSU's first Junior Day of the winter, saying, "I was impressed with him. I got to sit with him and meet with him in his office. He's a great guy. My only question coming into this visit was the coaches and I was thoroughly impressed. It had a big impact on me."
Another top Pennsylvania recruit, five-star tight end Adam Breneman, shared his thoughts on the opportunity to sit down with O'Brien, saying, "He just seems like such a great guy. He is very passionate and you can just feel his energy. it is really exciting to see the changes that are happening there."
New Jersey three-star OL Brendan Mahon summarized his thoughts on PSU's head coach as follows: "He's a great guy and I really liked him. He wants to keep what Coach (Joe) Paterno started, and you have to respect a guy like that and not just come into to the program and switch everything around."
"I really like the changes they are making on offense," explained Pennsylvania WR Brian Lemelle. "I really liked the family feel there and how you feel like you belong. I felt like I was already part of the team."
O'Brien has already landed three prospects from three different states. But what was it specifically that sold them on playing for O'Brien?
"My dad and I were very impressed with the staff, and especially impressed with Coach O'Brien," Ohio DB Ross Douglas said. "[He] really rolled out the red carpet for us, and treated us great. … He told me I'm a great football player, but also the type of person he wants to recruit at Penn State. He's a great person to speak with, and that jumps out at you right off the bat."
Virginia four-star QB Christian Hackenberg was particularly impressed with the attention O'Brien placed on his family, saying the following: "He sat with myself, my dad, my little brother and my grandpa and talked to us about the offense and his vision of how he will run things at Penn State. It was just a really good talk."
New Jersey DE Garrett Sickels said, "That's an awesome staff he put together, especially on the defensive side of the ball. And then you top it off with Coach O'Brien. I really enjoy talking to him. He's really like a Jersey guy, a Northeast guy. He gives it to you straight forward. He's not going to dance around anything, but also personable."
No doubt Bill O'Brien has made an positive impressions across the region with his passion, drive and ability to connect with individuals. This will clearly be a critical selling point as he and his staff work to fortify the program's foundation and build the next chapter of Penn State football, both on and off the field.