The recruitment of Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Prep offensive tackle Chasz Wright stretched from Virginia to New York, and included a commitment along the way. Through it all, Penn State kept an eye on the offensive tackle.
Saturday, the process ended.
A 6-foot-7, 315-pound prospect, Wright became the 19th verbal commit to Penn State's Class of 2014 when he called head coach Bill O'Brien to inform him of the news after speaking with defensive line coach Larry Johnson. He will enroll in January, with a plan to major in either kinesiology or communications.
"The rapport with my position coach, Mac McWhorter, and Coach Johnson, throughout my whole high school career was the key," Wright said. "It wasn't hard at all to get a feel for Coach O'Brien, we hit it off real well. And when I came down for camp one time, it was really kind of comfortable.
"They wanted me from the jump, and I've always had interest in my position coach. I decided to commit there, and everybody thanked me and congratulated me. It felt really good."
Penn State first began pursuing Wright during his junior year at Woodbridge (Va.) C.D Hylton High, but he ultimately selected Connecticut out of high school before enrolling at Milford. As recently as November, he told Scout he was keeping his options open. But when the Lions offered recently, it didn't take long for his recruitment to end.
Wright spoke about a host of subjects with O'Brien Saturday, but none revolved around the hot topic of the day, which was O'Brien's continued courtship by NFL franchises. Wright said whether the head coach remains a Lion or heads to the highest level of football didn't matter a bit.
"I respect Coach O'Brien in every way, fashion and form," Wright said. "I don't know why didn't I bring that up, but whatever Coach O'Brien has going on with him, and whatever internal conflict is going on with himself and his family, I didn't think it was right for me to question him on that.
"Whatever coach has to do, that has to be done. I already have enough respect for him as coach and a man."
Would O'Brien leaving change Wright's mind?
"If he left, I'm still committed to Penn State," he said. "I still have some guys that I'm comfortable with, like Coach Mac and Coach Johnson. So that wouldn't sway my commitment."
With a future at left tackle, Wright said he and Penn State's staff have determined he will redshirt his first year in Happy Valley, despite the Lions' desperate need for offensive linemen. With left tackle Garry Gilliam departing, State could have as few as eight to 10 scholarship offensive linemen in 2014.
Yet, the overall focus is on Wright's well-being, and most of that comes academically. Both sides agreed that getting off on the right foot in the classroom is key, and extra time with strength coach Craig Fitzgerald, plus additional reps with McWhorter, can only be beneficial.
"They want me to get acclimated," Wright said. "I think I'm more than ready to play in the big-time game. But that's how I feel in myself, and that's my confidence talking. It's more just the workload itself. In prep school, high school, it's the same workload. When you get into college assignments every day, there are due dates you have to keep in your mind, and you have to make sure you write stuff down and remember stuff, and I think it's going to help me a lot more staying up with my classes.
"As a student-athlete, I have to do what I have to do to make sure I don't have to take steps back, that I'm not making mistakes. I don't have to be flawless, but I have to make sure my tracks are covered and that I'm the best person I can be. A redshirt year will help."
Wright said his time at prep school opened his eyes to what it means to be a big-time tackle, crediting most of his growth to Milford offensive coordinator Stefon Wheeler, a fellow Milford alum who was a two-time All-Big Ten pick at Michigan State in the mid-2000s. The student said his teacher taught him how to play with confidence, and cited his improved punch, quick feet and better kick step as tools Wheeler supplied him with. All mixed well with his already present athleticism, with Wright believes makes him stand out from other tackles.
Days separate the tackle from arriving at Penn State, but he's not unfamiliar with University Park, having visited for a Junior Day while in high school. That was a one day trip, though. This time, he'll be there for good. And he couldn't be happier about it.
"It feels great, and like a whole bunch of weight was lifted of my shoulders and my family's shoulders," Wright said. "I made my commitment, and everybody was totally happy and nothing but smiles all around the house.
"Now, I have to focus on the serious side of going to Penn State, and the mental and physical part of going into this school. I'm happy about it."