Does Penn State now have a Rubin on the menu?

Amherst Central HS wide receiver <b>Mark Rubin</b> received a flurry of interest after impressing and earning an offer at every school he camped. Penn State's head coach, Joe Paterno, personally offered Mark a scholarship. Did he accept, becoming Penn State's 11th commitment? Yes!

Name: Mark Rubin
Position: WR
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 210 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.5
Hometown/School: Amherst, Ny. (Amherst Central HS)

With the advent of the internet and the recent boom of web sites dedicated to following recruiting, it seems that nothing's secret anymore.  Recruiting has become like six degrees of separation, a theory suggesting you can link one person to anyone on earth using just six people.  It seems that someone knows someone who knows someone and so on.  So when a prospect makes a verbal commitment, undoubtedly someone finds out about it and it ends up on some message board.  Such is the case with Amherst Central HS (Amherst, Ny.) wide receiver Mark Rubin, Penn State's #11 commitment.

On Sunday night, June 29th, a rumor began via a post on the LionNews Premium Board that Mark Rubin committed to the Nittany Lions after being offered at camp.  LionNews then contacted the Rubin household and talked with David Rubin, Mark's father, to see if there was any fire responsible for the smoke.  Mr. Rubin initially confirmed his son's commitment, recanting the information he knew at the time.  On Wednesday, July 2nd, LionNews was able to speak with Mark after the conclusion of the Syracuse camp, who confirmed he commited but asked to keep it quiet until he had the chance to call each of the schools recruiting him.

With every happy ending, comes an interesting beginning.  How the Rubin's verbal commitment adventure begin?

"We picked him up [from Penn State camp] on Friday.  We got him home and he was able to rest on Saturday but he went back out today," explained Mr. Rubin, who said Mark would be at Syracuse camp until the middle of the week.

Although Mark garnered quite a bit of interest, he only received an offer from Buffalo until June 29th.

"Yesterday he got three offers," said Mr. Rubin, who said his son received scholarships from Syracuse, Boston College, and Penn State.

"He went to Penn State and yes, they did make him an offer.  He then heard, although he never saw it because it came by fax the next day, (an offer) from Syracuse.  And then he got word from Boston College," continued Mr. Rubin.

"He didn't know when he was going to get any offers.  And it was starting to bother him a little when he hadn't gotten any offers.  He's got the natural ability, but he's worked on it and honed it.  He's always had a passion to play football."

With four offers, three from major Division One schools in hand, did Mark accept of of the scholarships presented to him?

"We're not sure what it means to get an offer.  Or how binding a verbal offer is and things like that," explained a hesitant David Rubin.  "But yes, he did get an offer and yes he did accept one from Penn State."

Did he get a written offer from the coaches or did he meet with a member of the coaching staff tell Mark they were offering a scholarship?

"Both," stated Mr. Rubin, explaining that Mark urged both his parents to come pick him up at camp.  "When he called us and told and told us to come down there, both myself and my his mom, I had inkling something was going on.  Either he had been hurt badly, but he didn't sound that way, or--.  Then his high school coach called and said in the last six hours, Mark has gotten three offers.  

When Mr. and Mrs. Rubin arrived in Happy Valley, the coaches asked to meet individually with Mark.

"My wife and myself went with him.  We first met with Coach Carter, then Coach Anderson, and then Coach Paterno, where he got a written offer," said Mr. Rubin.  "He gave it to him after the camp.  He didn't mail it, he gave it to him."

"The smile on his face when he got this offer was something to see.  I wish I had a camera because he was so happy," said Mr. Rubin.  "So when this offer came, I don't think there was any way he was going to jeopardize it.  So yes he did [accept the offer] and he was going to let people know on Wednesday."

Did Mark commit on the spot?

"No, we asked if we could think about it, so he, his mom, and myself could talk about it.  Then he did call them [on Saturday] and said yes he would like to come to Penn State.  Mark said he's always wanted to play for Penn State.  Mark does want to play football because he's also been a real good swimmer, but his passion has always been football."

Because Mark left for the Syracuse camp as soon as he returned from Penn State, he did not have a opportunity to call any of the coaches recruiting him to their school.  He also felt a special obligation to tell the Syracuse coaches in person about his commitment to Penn State, out of respect for their staff.

"He's not looking for a better offer or playing games, he just doesn't want to get in trouble with Syracuse," admitted Mr. Rubin, who joked that his middle name was "Trouble" for talking about Mark's commitment until he told all of the coaches recruiting him.

Before saying yes to the Nittany Lions' offer, Mark visited Syracuse, Boston College, Buffalo, Ohio State, Virginia Tech (Nike Camp), and Youngstown State.  What pushed the Nittany Lions above all the rest?

"Penn State is a real class operation.  First, they asked Mark how long it would take him to decide.  Mark thought about it and said, '10 seconds.'  When he got the offer, he asked them, 'can I get back to you later.'  And they said yes.  But he was also told that they were only taking one wide receiver and they're after four or five guys.  They offered all four or five of these guys, but they're only going to take one.  Whoever agrees first is the one that they'll take," explained Mr. Rubin.

With a stable of young receivers on their roster, does Penn State expect Mark to come in and contribute right away?

"They told him they would redshirt him.  He liked that idea.  He thought he could be bigger, stronger, and faster, plus he could learn the system better.  It would also give him the first year to work on his academics.  Then he could take the next four years and play."

"Penn State said that for them it is committing and if he gets hurt, he would still be offered."

"Penn State has a class operation.  We were really impressed with the coaches, with the academics, the facilities, and the whole way they handled the situation.  We're happy and he's happy both academically and athletically.  We think that it's a real good opportunity," said Mr. Rubin.

At 6'4'', 205, and running a 4.5 forty yard dash, Mark played wide receiver, free safety, strong safety, and outside linebacker at Amherst Central last season.  Like Jed Hill with boxing, Mark also participates in a unique sport that normally does not appear on a football player's resume.

"Mark was a state swim champion and runner-up a couple times (in the 50m and 100m freestyle).  So it was between football and swimming, only in a sense that Mark's a competitor and wants to compete at a high level, but football is his passion," explained Mr. Rubin, who thought it would be difficult for Mark to compete in both sports in college.  "He's come to the realization through talking to different people, reading different articles, and talking with athletes that it's tough to do different sports.  Particularly swimming and football because one wants tight muscles and one wants long, loose muscles."

Although David Rubin believes his son is a tremendous athlete, he feels Mark's brains and determination are what put him into a position to receive and accept a scholarship from a school the caliber of Penn State.

"He still wants to learn.  He's still working on his speed and strength," explained Mr. Rubin about his son's willingness to get better.  "He likes to watch NFL tapes and they always tell you that those who work the hardest will achieve.  He wants to achieve."

With offers from prestigous schools like Syracuse and Boston College closer to Buffalo than State College, how did Penn State pry Mark away from the New England's top two football schools?

"Throughout the whole process, Penn State was my top choice.  Growing up I always favored the blue and white of Penn State. Obviously Coach Paterno, the coach with the most wins ever in college football, is someone you keep an eye on and just put on a pedestal as one of the best coaches ever," said Mark.

"I went to their camp before my junior year and I thought it went very well.  I talked to the coaches, Coach Carter and Coach Anderson.  Then I had a a pretty good junior season and I stayed in touch with them and kept talking to them.  I went to the Nike Camp and visited them during spring break also.  They told me they definitely liked my skills, but that I had to work on my speed, which a lot of the coaches have been telling me," admitted Mark.

"So I got together with coach Deval Glover, who played in the NFL and was our high school strength trainer.  I hit the weights and started doing a lot of drills to get down my forty time.  So then we had a combine for western New York athletes and I ran a 4.49.  [The Penn State coaches] were pretty pleased with that time and they got a lot more interested.  Then I did pretty well with the drills at Nike Camp and they were pretty pleased with that," said Mark, who went to Virginia Tech's Nike Camp because his swim season had just finished at the time of Penn State's Nike Camp.  

"Then I went to [Penn State] camp a week ago.  They said they were going to keep an eye on me.  During the session, Coach Carter said he was really pleased how I performed in all the drills and then at the camp I ran a 4.53, so they were pleased I was running consistent 4.5's. As drills went on, he was more and more pleased about how I was performing.  Then he and Coach Anderson pulled me aside and talked to me.  They asked my parents to come down the last day," Mark continued.

"My parents and I went with Coach Carter and talked to Coach Paterno, where he told he me they had decided to offer me.  I was obviously very excited about that.  As I was driving home I talked it over with my parents.  I ranked the schools and since Penn State was obviously number one plus they gave me an offer, there obviously wasn't anything to think about.  I called Coach Carter the same day (Sunday) and told him I accepted the offer.  He told me how they are recruiting bigger receivers now.  I measured in at 6'4'', 210 (lbs) and they were very happy with my size and the way I moved.  He said they liked the way I caught balls and they were excited to have me.  I was just as excited to be a part of Penn State."

Last season for Amherst, Mark caught 48 balls for 605 yards and 6 touchdowns.

"If the ball is anywhere around me, I know I'm going to come down with it," said Mark, whose style of play reminded one Penn State coach of a former Nittany Lion receiver.  "Coach Anderson said that I reminded him of Joe Jurevicious.  That's great to be mentioned with a great receiver like that."

While he has been compared to past players at Penn State, he had the chance to meet a couple of current Lion receivers while at camp.

"I met a couple of their receivers, like Tony Johnson and Kinta Palmer.  They seem like a great group of guys.  They helped me out with some of the drills and gave me some pointers.  It's a great group of guys that I'm excited to be a part of," said Mark, who said that TJ and Kinta came down for a special reason.   "Coach Carter said that he asked them to stop by and talk me out just to check me out and tell him what they thought of me."

Penn State told Mark that they had only offered four wide receivers this season, planning to take the first player that commited. He admitted though, that this time last season he may not have gotten the offer because of his speed.  Prior to this year, Mark ran forties in the 4.65 range.  That has now all changed.

"I just ran a 4.46 at the Syracuse camp, so that was my best 40 time," said Mark, who attributed his speed to Coach Glover. "He played in the NFL and he was All-Big East at Syracuse.  He definitely knows his stuff."

Coach Anderson, Mark's main recruiter, and the rest of the staff obviously liked what they saw in Mark, but what exactly did Mark like in the Nittany Lions.

"When I saw the facilities again and met with the coaches, it's a place that I feel comfortable and I was just excited about playing there," admitted Mark.  "There weren't any negatives.  The coaching staff is obviously a big plus.  I pretty much met all of the coaches at camp and got a feel for them.  I've been to Penn State probably six or seven times with spring break and going to their camps and stuff."

Although Mark wants to achieve on the field as soon as possible, he plans on redshirting and take his career one step at a time. The commitment from this tall target certainly helps ensure the recruiting class will have a big-time receiver for the big-time quarterback they hope to bring in.  Mark also adds yet another classy individual to a growing list of classy individuals.

(Interview by Steve Curry)

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