JayPa To Visit QB Today

Today, Jay Paterno will reportedly visit with yet another quarterback prospect the Nittany Lions are eyeing. This signal caller counts Penn State among his top 2 schools and plans to make his decision before Christmas time. What are PSU's chances?

Name: Danny Southwick
Position: QB
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 210 pounds
School: Dixie State College of Utah, St. George, UT

"I signed with BYU before my mission," said Danny Monday evening. "I was still on my [LDS] mission last year at this time, just about to get home, and then I got home and took a couple trips and I signed with Oregon State. Shortly thereafter, [head coach Dennis] Erickson left. But, up there, I met my buddy Travis Brown who is now playing at the same place as me down here. He's a big-time BYU recruit and All-American JC, but anyway, we're just playing here now."

"Here" is Dixie State College of Utah in St. George, Utah. Danny has played several games at quarterback for the #2 Rebels (10-1) who will face the #1 Butler County Community College Grizzlies (11-0) from El Dorado, Kansas this coming Saturday in the 2003 Dixie Rotary Bowl with the NJCAA national championship on the line.

Beyond that title game, Southwick is mulling over several options for his imminent return to Division I.

"It's not fully set into place, but I know that Penn State is offering me and they're coming out here to visit me this week. I've talked to the BYU coaches quite a bit and I'm going to take a trip up there on the 12th. I was in contact with Oregon State, both Travis and I were in contact with Oregon State before we left, and they indicated to us that they'd like to have us back. Then there are a couple of other random possibilities like Ole Miss I know has called and wants me to send out a tape.

"Pretty much, BYU and Penn State are where I'm leaning to right now, but I'll know more after the trips. I'm going to take a trip to Penn State and a trip to BYU."

The trip to BYU on December 12 will be an official visit. He does not yet have a date for his official visit to Penn State.

"They (PSU) are coming out here in a couple days and so I'll just talk to them then. I think I'll probably end up [visiting] there before I go to BYU though, or maybe what I'll end up doing is taking BYU on the 12th and Penn State on the 19th or something like that. I know that I want to make a decision before Christmas. I want to make a decision. I've strung it out too many times in my life. I just want to get going.

"This will be my third time through the recruiting process: once before my mission, after my mission and now again."

To quickly summarize, Danny graduated high school in 2000, signed with BYU, went on an LDS missions trip for 2 years, and then returned and signed with Oregon State last year. Several factors, the greatest of which was Dennis Erickson's departure from Oregon State to the NFL, led to Southwick's transferring to Dixie State, a junior college.

"I actually went there (Oregon State) for spring ball and even part of the summer. My whole goal was to play immediately and with a new coach in, they had a couple of juniors in front of me and they didn't know me from high school or anything. Right after my mission, I wasn't the sharpest of quarterbacks, and so I think that right after that I didn't really get a great opportunity to play. I was behind two juniors and battling with a freshman named Ryan Gunderson, so at that point, rather than wait a couple of years to play, I just wanted to come and get some experience and get back into the flow of things right now and I feel like I've done that this year."

"There's a starter here and all last year named Adam Madson and we've split time pretty much the whole year. With the throws that I've gotten, I've done really well. I'm just a little under 60% and I've got 11 touchdowns, only 4 picks and I have over a thousand yards in not very many throws."

Danny still has 3 years of eligibility left to play within the next 4 years.

"If I went to BYU, I'm not looking to redshirt and play down the road. They've got guys coming in down the road. I'm looking to go in there and play. That would be one of my main interests in BYU, plus the fact that it's close to home.

"Penn State's a little bit different story because they have a quarterback to play this [next] year, but they haven't recruited quarterbacks for a while and it's a little more open down the road. The Penn State thing probably wouldn't be as immediate as BYU, but you never know."

According to Danny, Jay Paterno is going out to see him on Wednesday.

"He's the guy that recruited me out of high school. The funny thing is the fact that I'm choosing between BYU and Penn State puts me back in the same place I was in just a few years ago. BYU and Penn State was who I narrowed it down to out of high school and here I am. Everything just goes in circles I guess."

Has Penn State addressed the issue of Joe's possible retirement?

"Joe is talking about how he's going to be around for a little longer, not just next year, but looking like he's going to try to go for a couple. He's not guaranteeing me or anything, but he's just saying, 'I'm going to be around.' He's got 3 years left on his contract.

"See, he was the hardest guy in the world to turn down in the first place. I even think that's why it took me so long to make my decision because I kind of knew in my heart I was going to BYU, well I never ended up going there anyway, but I kind of knew in my heart that that was where I wanted to go, but I just kept postponing the call to Joe until like the morning of February 2. I just hated talking to him because turning down Joe Paterno--, I was just a little high school quarterback and he's like the greatest coach of all time."

Count Southwick among the contingent that believes Penn State's program will rebound.

"I don't think he wants to go out like that. He's been such a good coach for so many years. The thing about Penn State is that first of all, a program like that's not going to be down for long. Everyone was talking about how Florida State was down and out a couple years ago and they're right back in the mix. I don't think it's any different there, but the only thing is right now they have tons of freshmen and they're talking about all the freshmen they have and how they're getting older.

"That's kind of where BYU fits too. After Edwards left and Crowton [came in], there was kind of a little gap in recruiting for a while. So, both of those programs I think are on the up and up which I'm happy about."

When did Penn State re-enter the picture?

"I left (Oregon State) and when they knew I was gone, they asked for some tape from our coach. They just called our coach down here and they got some, so on the phone with him, it was just like old times."

BYU has not yet offered Southwick a scholarship.

"They haven't officially offered me. They said I'll know by my trip."

Penn State, according to Southwick, has extended a verbal scholarship offer.

"They just basically said, 'We're going to do whatever we can to get you here'. Even in high school, they recruited me harder than probably any other school. They've always just kind of been really up to date with what's going on and stuff, but as far as an offer this year, I asked Jay if I had an offer and he said, 'Well, because I'm not the head coach, I can't officially say that, but Joe said he's going to do whatever he can to get you here'. Then, in later contacts with my family, they said, 'Yeah, we're going to, of course, offer him a scholarship'.

"Jay is coming out in 2 days just to talk to me and see me practice. We're playing in the National Championship game and we kind of play our quarterbacks on the fly. I get in a lot, I've played about half the time this year, but there's a chance I won't get in. They want to see me play, so they're coming to watch practice. In practice, we split the reps."

Southwick is no stranger to State College.

"I've been there a couple times. In fact, I tried the trip from hell a couple of weeks ago. I was going to take an unofficial [visit] out there during our break and I left L.A. at 12:00 at night, got into Atlanta at 7:00 Atlanta time, flew to Cincinatti and then in Cincinatti they told me the flight to State College was cancelled. So, I'm there and I called Jay and said I wouldn't be able to get in until 7 and he said, 'We'll be leaving for Michigan State, so you might as well not worry about it'.

"That was going to be an unofficial and I was going to take an official visit there too, but it's just been bad luck at Penn State. I was going to take a visit to them last year right before I visited Oregon State, but I had some real bad sinus infections so I couldn't go in the air because of the air pressure. I think since I've gone 0 for 2 in my last two tries I think that's why they're like, 'Yeah, we'll just come out there this time'," he joked.

It seems Danny is not opposed to playing at PSU, far away from home.

"I'm not opposed at all to playing for Joe Paterno. I mean, it's a long ways away, but there's pros and cons to each place. Obviously, Provo is my hometown and nothing would be greater than going out and playing USC in the opening game of next year in front of all my friends and family and beating the National Champs. That's like a childhood dream, but at the same time, I've been to a Penn State/Michigan game (1999) and there's over a 100,000 fans in Beaver Stadium and it's a whole different style of football than I've ever seen.

"They have a like a mile full of RVs for their tailgaiting and it's just like a whole way of life out there. I don't think I'm in a bad situation with either one.

"I'm totally juiced about Penn State. I love--, if I ended up there, it would be a long time coming. Those guys have been the team that's been after me the most for a long time and [a school] I've always really considered, but it might be real nice to just go out and be there for once after going to BYU, then Oregon State, then junior college and then finally ending up there it would probably be pretty cool.

"If I went there and then redshirted next year, I'd have [Michael] Robinson the next year and then I'd have two years after that. That could be a REALLY good situation if you think about it, because those guys (Ganter and Robinson) would be gone and I'd still have two years of eligibility after those guys are gone.

"They told me they were trying to bring in one other guy too, but they said it's a good situation for me because I'm a junior college quarterback which is a little bit different. They try to get the junior college players to get in the rotation quicker just because we've played longer, we're older and played against higher competition."

One hurdle BYU must overcome if they choose to make an offer to Southwick is some uneasiness regarding BYU head coach Gary Crowton's handling of quarterback Brett Engemann, Danny's uncle. Assuming that becomes ancient history during his official visit there in a couple of weeks, is there a chance he could pull the trigger and commit during that visit?

"No, there's no way I would turn down JoePa without taking a trip out there and hearing what he has to say, there's just no way."

It should also be noted that Danny is very close to teammate and wide-receiver Travis Brown and would optimally like to attend the same school. Travis, who has only 2 years of eligibility remaining, is looking at BYU and Utah among others. Southwick indicated that PSU is evaluating film of Brown.

Enrolling at either BYU or PSU for the spring semester is not an option.

"One problem for me with any place I go is that I can't come in in the spring because you have to get your Associate's degree and at least be two semesters at a place before you can leave. So, the earliest I would be able to get there would be for fall ball next year because of that rule."

The next few weeks should be interesting for both Southwick and fans of the Cougars and Nittany Lions alike.

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