Inside a Visit: Dad's Eye View

It is a perspective routinely overlooked. But as the coaching staffs from all of the colleges entertain potential signees on official weekend visits, the parents of those recruits are also being catered to. For as much as a program needs to sell itself to a prospect, it also must win over mom and dad.

At Penn State, it's no different. The official visit is a well-coordinated three-day event that involves the likes of Penn State players, coaches, and even Joe Paterno's wife, Sue .

Paul McEowen, father of current Penn State defensive tackle commitment Tom McEowen, made the trip to Happy Valley this past weekend for an official visit with his son and his wife. For the McEowen family, it was their first ever — and only — official visit.

With a wide array of events that occurred that weekend, Paul initially mentioned one lasting memory of the official visit to Penn State.

“The one thing that stands out about the official visit is how much you eat,” Paul said. “The food is unbelievable. It really is.”

Outside of the constant feeding of recruits and family members alike, the Penn State staff also made sure to take care of the parents. As for the mothers of the recruits, they were all taken on a shopping trip downtown with Sue Paterno, much to the excitement of the fathers in attendance.

“First of all, Saturday afternoon, Sue took the ladies shopping,” McEowen said. “It was Sue and them and Galen [Hall's] wife and they took the wives shopping, which is great. The guys were with some of the position coaches. The husbands were able to sneak back and get some rest, which was pretty good.”

Later that evening, the parents were invited to the Paterno residence for dinner.

“We went out to dinner at Joe Paterno's house and it was just the parents,” McEowen said. “The boys went off together and all the parents and coaches went back to their house. We had a great time. Some of the students came in and they did some carol singing. I mean it was really nice. I was amazed at how down to earth they both are. All they could do was stress that they were part of the family. They opened up their house and made you feel welcomed.”

Paul described the dinner as very laid-back and casual.

“There's a lot of good stories,” Paul laughed. “A lot of it is because my wife is English. Joe and Sue were telling stories of their trip to England and how Joe didn't like driving a stick shift. It's just normal stuff that they talk about. It's hard to pick out anything. It's light banter back and fourth the whole night. They make you feel like you're part of the family, from JoePa all the way down. They make you feel like family from the time you walk in there.”

As for the most memorable part of the weekend, Paul was quick to mention his enjoyment of meeting with the many other parents of recruits.

“The best part is that you get to meet the other parents,” Paul said. “Quite a few of us got together and we had a nice group. We go along quite well. The recruits finished with their hosts and each other, we got a chance to sit down and talk about the whole experience. It was great. We've all built some nice friendships.”

The group Paul and his wife spent much of their time with included the family of Penn State commitments Eric Latimore and Doug Klopecz, along with the parents of Maurice Evans and Brent Carter. The topics of discussion among the parents were diverse.

“We'd sit there and [recruiting web sites] would come up in our conversations and how different sites deal with different things,” Paul said. “We talked about the whole aspect of the recruiting situation and how it affects the kids and what all of use are expecting. Overall it was a very good weekend. This was really our first and only official because Penn State is it. That's it. Just from talking to other people, they were very comfortable and felt the same way. It was a great weekend. A lot of us ended up with phone numbers and addresses. Even some of the kids that don't necessarily end up at Penn State, the whole process we made some new friends.

The families also had the opportunity to speak with current Penn State players and coaches about just about anything.

“The questions that we were asking, the biggest thing was the normal day to day for a freshman and what their workload is, what academic help do they have, and the structure that is put down for them,” Paul said. “A lot of that was answered. The biggest thing is the transition to college life from high school. Especially with the football program, the support that is there for them, it put many of us at ease.”

For Paul, all of his questions going into the weekend were answered.

“We felt very good about everything,” Paul said. “We know that they have all the support in the world for them to succeed, and it's basically impossible for them not to. If they do, it's their fault. Penn State does everything they can to help these kids succeed in life and in class.”


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