James Franklin threw a mini-party in his Lasch Building office Sunday. Josh Barajas was the guest of honor, even if he was nearly 550 miles away.
The junior was sitting in his family's living room when he set up a Facetime connection with Penn State's staff. The application allows for video conferencing, which means Barajas, a four-star outside linebacker from Merrillville, Ind. Andrean High, witnessed head coach James Franklin spinning and jumping, and his assistants screaming and hollering with joy, when the junior verbally committed to the Lions Sunday afternoon.
"I kind of thought about it this past week," Barajas said. "I kind of got the feeling when I was down there for the first time and visited. I wanted to hop on board, and figured why wait? I knew this was the one."
Barajas and his family visited University Park for the first time last weekend; a trip that was set up shortly after Penn State offered him Feb. 21. The unofficial trek came nearly a month later, and afterward, the linebacker highlighted the family atmosphere, and energy of the staff, in an interview with Scout.com.
Those qualities were highlighted again when Barajas reviewed why he committed to the Lions. The Indiana prospect is the 11th commitment to the class of 2015, seventh four-star, and second line backer.
"When I first got there, the energy and electricity really stood out," Barajas said. "The coaches were really, really comfortable, and we really clicked."
One of the coaches he meshed early with was linebacker coach Brent Pry, an assistant Barajas said he envisions spending plenty of time with.
"He was really, really family oriented, so I knew no matter what, he had my back," Barajas said. "Even outside of football; he felt like I guy I could talk to about anything.
"He's just like a father figure, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be spending most of my time with him."
Penn State's lack of linebackers is no secret, and the Lions' staff made it known that early playing time is a possibility for the outside linebacker. Barajas said that was as much of a selling point as anything, as was the setting of State College.
The college town reminded the junior of his old home in the south. Its "middle of nowhere" locale is similar to his former home, and he said State College doubles as a place that "lives and breathes football."
Barajas said Franklin made him pledge his word that he won't take any other visits or speak with any other college coaches. The junior called the end of his recruitment bitter sweet, but said in the end, it's for the best.
He called it the best for him, his family, and his future.
"It was a tough decision, definitely," Barajas said. "I felt like it was where I was going to be happy and most comfortable. It was touch to pick one school, but in the end, I didn't see any other school beating Penn State as far as me feeling comfortable.
"It would have been fun to take some more visits and my officials, but I can be a regular kid and enjoy time with my family. It's good overall. I can focus on my family and senior season."