Latest Chapter in Bookser's Recruitment

Did a last-minute decision to check out Penn State improve the Nittany Lions' chances with the coveted offensive lineman?

When Alex Bookser decided that he wanted to join teammate and Penn State Class of 2014 commit Troy Apke on his voyage to University Park Wednesday, seeing the facilities and talking with the Nittany Lions' coaching staff was a priority.

But it was not the top one.

Rather, the Mount Lebanon (Pittsburgh) four-star offensive lineman wanted to speak with and gain perspective from the Penn State players. As he rolled back to Pittsburgh following PSU's afternoon barbecue, he felt he did just that.

Bookser admits that Penn State was always near the top of his list, but never quite in the same echelon as Ohio State and Pittsburgh, the two frontrunners in his top eight. Instead, the Lions were lumped in with Virginia, Alabama, Michigan State, Tennessee and Northwestern in what appeared to be a second tier.

As of Wednesday, though, the Lions had broken the glass ceiling, and now reside near the top of Bookser's list. It's one he doesn't plan to trim again, either.

"My top eight is still the same," Bookser said in a text message Wednesday night. "It's Pitt, Ohio State and Penn State up front, with Virginia close behind.

"Penn State has always been close to the top of my list, anyway, so I'm not sure if it moved up, but it definitely reinforced my good attitude toward them."

The senior-to-be has played his recruitment close to the vest, unwilling to shine in the spotlight that many recruits choose to. That hasn't stopped him from enjoying the process, though.

Take Wednesday, for example. Bookser said he, along with the current team and other recruits in attendance, played a bag-toss game and softball in what can be described as a picnic-like atmosphere. They also ate, and it's worth noting that the recruits in attendance had to pay for their meals to stay in line with NCAA rules.

It was during those activities that Bookser said he accomplished his mission of getting the scoop from the players who have gone through the recruiting process before. He also spoke with Lions' head coach Bill O'Brien, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and running backs coach Charles London for a brief while individually. But his focus was on the players.

"I already know they are great guys, and they can obviously coach or they wouldn't be there," Bookser said. "[He and the players] sat down and ate together, which is always a good way to get to talk to someone.

"I talked to a couple of the tight ends, but I don't remember their names. They would tell me stories about O'Brien, and just the great stuff he would do. They talked a lot about how it's a lot more fun this year, especially in the weight room.

"I talked with a running back and wide receiver in my class — Mark Allen and Chris Godwin — and they both talked about how they had looked at other places, but no one beat the people and the atmosphere at Penn State."

No additional visits dot Bookser's schedule at this time, and the linemen summed up his timeline by saying, "I keep telling myself I want to take officials before I decide, but we'll see if it happens. There is no real timeline."

What has become real, though, is his relationship with Apke. The FOX Sports NEXT four-star receiver prospect committed to the Lions April 13, and Bookser added that they've grown closer throughout the process since they are both experiencing the same thing.

And while he may not be close to a decision, State certainly pulled closer to factoring in it on a sunny State College afternoon.

"I enjoyed being able to meet the current team, but more importantly, the guys who have committed from my class. They all seem like great guys," Bookser said. "This was the first time I really got to meet the team, not just the coaches, and I was really happy to see that everyone was very friendly with great attitudes.

"It was just a fun day."

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