Farmer Looking to Grow at Penn State

The Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame safety committed to the Nittany Lions Saturday. Find out why inside.

Koa Farmer received an unexpected reaction when he informed Penn State coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lion staff he was committing during an official visit over the weekend. They mobbed in him celebration, and the California safety knew he had made the right decision.

"It feels awesome," Farmer said from California Monday. "It's a blessing, and I'm a blessed kid. That's all I can say. I just felt like Penn State was the place I wanted to be for the next few years of my life. I want to be with the coaches; they're a good group.

"They're big motivators, have a lot of energy, and I just felt like they're going to be the people that would take me to the next level."

A product of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound three-star finished his senior season with 62 tackles, four interceptions and three forced fumbles while racking up nearly 1,000 yards on offense. He chose the Lions over nine other offers, including Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and California, where he had been previously committed.

Farmer didn't rule out a trip to Wisconsin next week, just days before National Signing Day Feb. 5, saying he had to discuss it with his parents. But he was already talking about playing under new Nittany Lion defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.

"I know Coach Shoop wants me to play safety, but I'm big enough to play outside linebacker, so I'm pretty sure I'll play that STAR back, too," Farmer said. "I think I'm built like a linebacker but fast like a defensive back, so I think I have a big range and I'm fast for a safety.

"I would say I'm fast, strong and put my team before myself. I come from Notre Dame, and we're used to always being called the underdog, so I'm always looking to prove people wrong. I just want to win; whatever I have to do to be 10-0, 16-0, or whatever it might be."

The senior said he was sold on the Lions by both the town of State College and a presentation from Franklin Saturday that showed him what the program could offer.

"I've never seen snow come from the sky before, so that was a good experience," Farmer said. "I can just tell the campus in the spring will be beautiful, and it's actually like they're own city. It's a college town, so there's no NFL team or anything else.

"[Franklin's presentation] got me so hyped; I wanted to play at the moment. He was talking about how our program is going to be off the chain, and how we're going to be unrivaled, because we're not going to have a rival team because no one will mess with us."

Official visitors also took in a few moments of a Penn State hockey game at Pegula Ice Arena, and Farmer said he was impressed that people not only recognized him, but knew he committed by the time he got there. The safety will major in pathology, and was intrigued to learn that the university can offer him an education path that allows him to start in forensic sciences and criminology, which will ultimately set him up to obtain a doctoral degree down the road in his desired field.

The plan is to reach goals in that field while reaching goals on the gridiron. And as much as anything will help him get there, Shoop, who doubles as the safeties coach, will be a big part of it, too.

"He's like my father there," Farmer said. "I can tell he's a great coach, and I know he's going to take me to the next level. His football IQ is ridiculous, and the knowledge he has in his defense and trying to do different things is incredible.

"He's going to tell me what's good and bad, and help me build my character on and off the field."

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