Sonny Abramson may only be entering his sophomore year of high school, but plenty of big-name college football programs have come knocking on his door at Pope John XXIII High in Sparta, N.J.
Saturday, he knocked on Penn State's door, and the Nittany Lions welcomed the signal caller and his family into Beaver Stadium with open arms ahead of the match-up with UCF. Abramson camped at University Park in June, when he worked directly with Lions' head coach Bill O'Brien.
This time, he saw the second-year coach work directly with his true freshman quarterback, Christian Hackenberg. It was a sight only topped by what he saw from the Lions' stadium, town atmosphere and pro-style offense in a 34-31 loss to UCF.
"Penn State has always been one of the schools I'm interested in, and they are one of my top schools," Abramson said. "I wanted to come out for a game and see what the atmosphere was like.
"It's crazy. We were walking down the street, and saw people in Penn State gear, there was music playing, and everyone was so excited to go to the game," he said. "The crowd was deafening, the stadium was huge, and the playing level is so high out there. Everything is incredible."
The personality possessed by a coaching staff, both collectively and individually, is important to Abramson, and one of the reasons he has the Lions on top early. The quarterback called O'Brien, quarterback coach Charlie Fisher, and the rest of State's staff "great coaches and great people." He added that University Park offers a campus setting that intrigues him, and also that it seems like a school he could see himself fitting in at.
Organization was another facet of Penn State's game day experience that he mentioned stood out, something he saw firsthand during camp. It's a delicate balance between teaching and evaluating with over 300 campers filling the practice fields outside Holuba Hall on most camp Saturdays, yet Abramson noticed that the Lions' staff is able to keep things running smoothly.
It was likely his smooth release that sent him into a small group that worked mostly with O'Brien, an opportunity he said allowed him to learn more about the coach and the Penn State offense.
"I really had a great experience working with Coach O'Brien," Abramson said. "We worked with him for a good amount of time, and that was a great experience.
"I worked with Coach Fisher, too, and was really able to see what their thought process was with reads and progressions, and was able to learn the offense a little bit and get a better grasp of what they do."
Abramson opened Pope John's season last Thursday by completing 13 of 22 passes for 185 yards and an interception in a 43-28 victory over Randolph (N.J.) High. When asked to detail his strengths, he explained coaches have complimented him on the mental part of his game and ability to make quick decisions, and have praised him for his pocket awareness and ability to extend a play.
Michigan, Stanford, USC, Virginia Tech, Duke and Michigan State have showed interest, and Rutgers and South Florida have expressed their notice of his play with verbal scholarship offers. Penn State was his last scheduled visit of the fall, though he left the door open for potential trips down the road.
A mix of football and academics, and an offense that focuses on the quarterback, are the rough outline of the qualities he is looking for in a school. Though he admits that decision won't come for quite some time. He's enjoyed the recruiting process so far, he said, but is also demanding full focus on his season, too.
"Penn State's offense is very pro-style based, and that's something any quarterback likes to see," Abramson said. "I really liked the tempo. It was very fast, and a lot of no-huddle.
"It was a very quarterback central offense, and I really like to see that. [Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg] was calling plays at the line and all that type of stuff, and that's what I look for on offense."