Anatomy of an Official Visit Weekend

New Penn State coach James Franklin held his first big recruiting weekend on campus the past few days. What went down?

New Penn State head coach James Franklin and his freshly assembled staff played host to a wide array of committed and uncommitted prospects Friday through Sunday at University Park.

It was, in at least one respect, magical (more on this later).

Since it was the staff's first major recruiting weekend, we touched base with some prospects to see how things unfolded. Some stayed 12 hours, some 72. Here is the lowdown on how things went.


Official Visitors

QB Trace McSorely, Briar Woods (Va.) Ashburn – verbal commit

OT Brendan Brosnan, Park Ridge (Ill.) Maine South – verbal commit

OT Chance Sorrell, Middletown (Ohio) – verbal commit

DE Lloyd Tubman, Louisville (Ky.) Seneca High – verbal commit

LB Jason Cabinda, Hunterdon (N.J.) Central - verbal commit

CB Grant Haley, Atlanta (Ga.) Lovett School - verbal commit

S Koa Farmer, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame – verbal commit

OT Isaiah Wynn, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood – Georgia Commit CB Amani Oruwariye, Miami (Fla.) Gaither

Unofficial Visitors (confirmed as of Sunday night)

RB Mark Allen, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha – verbal commit

RB Johnathan Thomas, Danvers (Mass.) St. John's Prep – verbal commit

RB Nick Scott, Fairfax (Va.) – verbal commit

RB Charles Walker, Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier – offered preferred walk-on spot

OT Noah Beh, Scranton (Pa.) Prep – verbal commit

LB Troy Reeder, Wilmington (Del.) Salesianum School – verbal commit

Saf. Marcus Allen, Upper Marlboro (Md.) Wise High - verbal commit

K Jorge Powell, Miami (Fla.) Belen Jesuit – preferred walk-on commit

LS Davis Winkie, Cumming (Ga.) South Forsyth


FRIDAY: The crop of visitors arrived anywhere from late Thursday night to early Friday afternoon, and proceeded to settle in and get to know one another and the coaches before dinner. Afterward, there was more mingling with the staff, time to chat with current players, a stop at Beaver Stadium, all before checking out the living space and picking the brain of their host player.

Recruits and their families stayed at the Nittany Lion Inn, and beef, pasta and fish were served for dinner.

"It was a lot of fun. I had a great time," McSorley said. He was hosted by walk-on quarterback Austin Whipple. "I really just love how close the guys on the team are. Everyone hung out together, and everyone was just so close.

"Everyone was pretty much like a family, and it had that kind of feeling. It was awesome, them just being in the class, and I'm excited to get back up there."

SATURDAY After breakfast was served, the recruits in attendance got a unique taste of Penn State with a stop at the Creamery on campus, and then took a tour of campus and met some academic counselors. Lunch followed before a return to Lasch.

For the next few hours, TAP members saw much of what happened in the FOS Twitter thread: recruits — both official visitors joined by unofficial visitors who made the day trip — took photos in an assortment of Penn State gear ranging from jerseys to helmets. Franklin gave a presentation, too, one that ultimately sealed Farmer's decision to commit.

"He was talking about how our program is going to change, and that it's going to be off the chain," Farmer said. "He stressed how we're going to be unrivaled; we're not going to have a rival team because no one is gong to mess with us.

"He connected things around that, and making us a better person as far as character. It wasn't just about football, but when he did talk about that, we all got hyped."

Later, some of the group joined Franklin, who donned a white Lions hockey sweater, at Pegula Ice Arena as the PSU hockey team faced Boston College. They toured through the student section shaking hands, banging on the glass, and watching the action, and there was always a smile to be found.

"It was pretty cool getting to walk through the student section," McSorley said. "It was people I didn't know, and I doubt they even knew who I was, but they knew I played football and were just telling me how much they love Penn State football and how much they love Penn State.

"It was nice kind of seeing the feeling around Penn State football. It was cool."

Dinner at a lit Beaver Stadium followed the hockey game, which all came after Farmer and Powell gave their pledge to the program. An assortment of steak, chicken and pasta were served in the warmth of the recruiting lounge as snow sat atop the Beaver Stadium tarp, and a magician later performed.

The magic man was a unique twist, and surely something not seen much, if ever, at Beaver Stadium. To commit Marcus Allen though, it had a purpose.

"The magic tricks were really good," Allen said. "He brought him in to show if you're really passionate in what you want to do, you'll be really good at it if you put the time in it to be better. Like the magician said, he's really, really good because that's all he's been doing since he was 11 years old.

"He's always been working on new magic tricks, and practicing the old ones, and that's how you get better."

After dinner, the prospects funneled off to chat with coaches before again getting time with their hosts and other players and peers before the day concluded.

SUNDAY: Some prospects were wheels up to go home after breakfast, while others spent a few more hours learning about academics, the Penn State training staff, or its strength and conditioning program with new strength coach Dwight Galt III. Some prospects had a chance to check out Holuba Hall, the indoor practice facility, even though many of the assistant coaches — who had lived on the road recruiting since coming on board at PSU — had never been there.

Players and families were moved around campus in blue trolley-style buses.

Penn State netted a pair of commitments from Farmer and Powell out of the lot of weekend visitors, while four-star Englishtown (N.J.) Manalapin receiver Saeed Blacknall flipped his commitment from Rutgers to Penn State after an official visit to the Scarlet Knights this weekend.

More official visitors could come, but the time frame for them to do so is narrowing. Approximately two spots remain in State's Class of 2014, and with just one weekend left in the cycle, the class could be filled by the time Friday rolls around.

Regardless of whether or not anyone visits prior to Signing Day Feb. 5, it's hard to imagine the mass of vibes coming out of this weekend will be matched. Just ask Brosnan.

"The amazing stadium, weight room and other facilities," he said when asked what stood out. "It was really amazing to see it for the first time. The combination of great academics and elite football is the ultimate combination."

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