Meet PSU's newest "Big Ugly"

On Tuesday night, Secaucus, NJ lineman <b>Austin Hinton</b> called Penn State's assistant head coach, Fran Ganter, to give him a verbal commitment. When was Austin offered? Did he meet JoePa? What position will he play?

Name: Austin Hinton
Position: OL
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 285 pounds
Bench Press: 320 pounds
40-yard dash: 5.0
School: Secaucus, Nj. (Secaucus HS)

Penn State's recruiting train rolled through Secaucus, NJ late Tuesday night, stopping to pick up 6'4'', 285 pound offensive guard, Austin Hinton, making him the eleventh known commitment for the Nittany Lions.  How did Austin become the newest, in a long line of New Jersey stars, to play for Penn State?

Austin attended Penn State camp in the middle of June, arriving in State College at night and working out the next morning.  But that one day of work was enough to earn him a full scholarship from the Penn State coaching staff.

"During the day, I just did offensive lineman drills.  I worked with Coach Dick Anderson and Coach Bill Kenney and they both really liked me.  And then Coach Ganter said that I was going to meet with Coach Paterno," said Austin.  "So I just went to his office and talked to him for a few minutes."

What did JoePa say to Austin once he came to his office?

"He said that he's heard a lot of good things about me and he was happy to see how ugly I am," laughed Austin.  "He was being funny.  I like people like that."

"Coach Ganter said that [Coach Paterno] hasn't seen the football side of me," said Austin, alluding to Joe not having seen the highlight tape he sent to Penn State.  "But he likes my personality."

The Penn State coaches were no strangers to Austin. In fact, a member of the coaching staff stopped by Secaucus HS early in the spring to see how he performed on the hard court.

"Coach Anderson watched me play basketball when he came to my school," said Austin.

The highlight tape Austin sent earlier in the spring proved only to be icing on the cake, because the coaches were thrilled with Austin's ability and agility for a man his size.  When did the Nittany Lions offer him the scholarship?

"They called my coach (Charlie Voorhees) and told him I had a scholarship.  Coach Paterno just signed the letter," said Austin.  "They just sent [the written offer] out yesterday."

Coach Voorhees immediately called Austin to inform him of the news, but Austin had one more hurdle to clear before giving his verbal.

"I talked to Ganter that night (when they offered) and he said they'd be really excited if I committed.  Then I talked to my mom the next day about it.  And when she got home from work, I called them," said Austin.

How does it feel to be a future Nittany Lion?

"I'm excited.  It was my number one school," admitted Austin.  "[My mom] said it's her number one pick too."

Why did Austin have the Nittany Lions number one on his list?

"From everything I've seen, like facilities, and what I've heard.  My principle's son goes there," Austin explained.  "I like the coaches, all of them."

"It's a great school academically and football-wise.  It's close to home," said Austin, who likes that his family and friends will be able to see him play.

In fact, Austin, who has only been to Penn State once, will be taking some of his family back up to State College in the near future, so they can all have the chance to become familiar with the area.

"I'm going to go back next weekend with my parents and stay at a hotel," said Austin, calling Penn State's campus "amazing."

Prior to his commitment to Penn State, Austin had received a ton of interest but only one scholarship offer, a verbal offer from Clemson.  When did they offer?

"About a month and a half ago.  They called my coach and said they were offering," explained Austin.  "I called them back to say thank you and they told me they wanted me to visit the school, but my coach hasn't heard from them since."

So far this summer, Austin has camped at Duke, Boston College and Penn State.  Which schools really factored into his decision?

"It was between Penn State and [Boston College], but I was at BC three times and I hadn't heard anything from them yet. Penn State was my number one school though."

Austin admitted that he feels the Eagle coaches weren't overly interested after a sub par camp performance

"I had a bad night's sleep at BC.  It was cold and I didn't have a blanket," Austin said, explaining he made sure he was well rested and prepared, in order to impress the Penn State coaches.

Austin will probably play left guard in college, his most natural position being left handed.  Although the coaches haven't said anything to him about playing time, Austin plans to redshirt next year, hoping to get stronger and more ready to face college defensive lineman.

Originally, he planned to keep his college destination a secret until graduation, where in a dramatic fashion, he would tear open his robe, exposing a Penn State jersey underneath.  Unfortunately for Austin that plan had but one flaw.

"I can't keep my mouth shut," joked Austin, who admitted he had no idea Penn State had received a commitment from another lineman recently, saying he only knew of Greg Harrison and Wyatt Bowman.

No matter though, the word's out now that Penn State's has it's newest "big ugly."  This Austin will most certainly relish the opportunity to open holes for another Austin.

(Interview by Steve Curry)

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