Flying by offensive linemen Saturday at University Park, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) class of 2015 defensive end Darius Fullwood felt right at home.
Plenty made him feel that way. The campus' intimate setting, the constructive nature of the coaching staff, and the Penn State tradition he had long ago learned about.
It made the offer he received after the Nittany Lions second Advanced Skill Camp of the summer all the more special. Joined by his family inside the office of head coach Bill O'Brien long after the final camp horn sounded, Fullwood received high praise from the Lion leader. On the way home, he learned of the offer he had hoped for.
"I think everything went well. From the start to finish of the drills, everything that I did was good," Fullwood said. "They all are friendly, and were ready to work with me.
"When they told me to hang back, I was excited, and hoping for the offer. I ended up getting it, and they are my favorite school, so I was excited to get it."
But why, is Penn State his favorite school? A gut feeling doesn't tend to amount to much in the recruiting world, but the 6-foot-4, 240 pound Fullwood said that was exactly the case. He put into words why State sits atop his ledger, but ultimately summed it up by saying "they just are."
His familiarity with the program began before O'Brien began to roam the Beaver Stadium sidelines, instead beginning while the late Joe Paterno and his staff still led the Lions out of the tunnel on Saturdays. It doesn't hurt that his position coach, Larry Johnson, remains on the sideline even after much of Paterno's staff has been replaced by O'Brien assistants.
"In the back of my mind, I was kind of hoping I would get a chance to see them, and go to their school just because of the tradition," Fullwood explained. "They are known for defense, and defense is my main position. I really wanted to get up there and see what Linebacker U is all about.
"I've been watching them for the past few years on ESPN, and they are one of my favorite teams to watch. Just, the style of play, and the way they use their players, and have emotion and passion in every game. They are always fighting."
Fullwood didn't watch ESPN while sitting with Johnson during the lunch period that breaks up the morning and afternoon session of camps. Instead, he watched former Lion greats beating an offensive lineman for an easy sack or a momentum-shifting fumble. Whether they were in Penn State blue and white or the colors of their respective NFL teams, their moves always looked good in his mind.
When lunch ended and the afternoon session began, the defensive end figured he, too, could emulate the moves he had just seen. And to his surprise, they worked, over and over again. Whether it was a one-on-one drill or something different, he used his hands and feet just like the players Johnson has showed him, leading to the same success they had.
"The main tips [I received] were just from watching those videos on the d-ends that came before me. I took all those tips and videos that he [Johnson] showed me of other players," Fullwood explained. "I watched those, and applied them to my one-on-ones with stuff like using my hands, and getting hands off and beating blocks.
"I was surprised they worked so well, because I've never used those moves before. I saw and applied them, and they worked instantly, and helped me so well in my one-on-ones."
With plenty of time until his decision must be made, the end said he would like to decide by the end of his junior year, the goal to leave enough time before signing day in case he wants to push the date back, while also not allowing his recruitment to drag on, either.
The feedback he received Saturday was plentiful. Johnson noted his motor and the fact that he doesn't ever give up on a play, while O'Brien explained that he likes his film, and that while he has room to grow, he could also see him contributing early, and often, at Penn State.
It was all exactly what Fullwood wanted out of his day at Penn State.
"There is nothing bad I can say about [Penn State]. I love the community, the coaching staff, the facilities, and its right up there in the middle of Pennsylvania, so there are always different places to go," he said. "The way they have it setup, they build you up for success.
"It means a lot coming from a coach that coached with the Patriots. He's already been to the top, and for the coach for Penn State to say that to me, is great," Fullwood continued when asked about O'Brien's comments.
"All my offers mean a lot to me, but especially the Penn State one. They are my number one choice right now, and that's just because the way they operate, and everything about