One of the biggest early Penn State commits in the 2013 recruiting class tight end Adam Breneman of Cedar Cliff High in Camp Hill, Pa., was very impressed with the staff's approach to unofficial visits.
"I've been on one ‘full' visit with the new staff," Breneman said. "And it was one of the best visits I have taken anywhere."
So what exactly does a recruit do on an unofficial visit to Penn State? 2013 PSU prospect Ryan Switzer of George Washington High in Charleston, W.V. breaks it down.
"When we got there we met in the team meeting room and watched a highlight clip," Switzer said. "After that we went to take a tour through all the facilites."
He added, "The weight room, the locker room, the academic buildings."
The tour continued, to see all the aspects of being a Penn State football player.
"We also talked to the strength and conditioning staff as well as the academic advisors," Switzer said.
Penn State still places a strong emphasis on the academic aspects of their program and also puts in extra time on the conditioning program, which is new to Happy Valley.
"After we saw the football facilities they showed us where the team eats their meals."
The visit continued from there, with something that Breneman thought was perhaps the most important part of the trip.
"There was a lot of one-on-one time with Coach O'Brien," Breneman said. "And we talked just as much about school and family as we did about football."
O'Brien uses the extended sit-down sessions with individual players to discuss the program's philosophy and schemes, cover the depth chart and review the staff's assessment of the player's ability and anticipated impact on the PSU program. He will often review position film of players he recently coached with the New England Patriots to illustrate his methodology and the approach PSU will take with the player's individual position.
He also asks about their concerns heading into the next level of play, answers their specific questions and uses the opportunity to understand the player as an individual and their family.
"Which was great," Breneman explained.
Switzer seemed to agree.
"When that was over we got to go to the stadium," Switzer said. "And to finish the day we got to meet one-on-one with our individual coaches."
He added, "And then meet with Coach O'Brien to see how they would use me."
The overall approach has resonated loudly with many prospects who are particularly impressed with the time and attention O'Brien provides to the players and their families.
"He is very passionate and you can just feel his energy," Breneman said after sitting down with O'Brien for the first time.