Time seemed to fly by through the summer. Even with the excitement of my senior football season, I was often confronted with other dilemmas. With all of the attention being paid to recruiting, my everyday life began to seem busier and busier. The phone calls were constant. The visits from coaches to my school became more and more frequent until it got to the point that at least one a day was expected. I visited many schools during this time period. I also met many people and had a lot of unique experiences that I would not have had the opportunity to have had it not been for my recruitment. But through it all Penn State was always there.
Antonio Logan-El and I had made a trip there over the summer and we were overwhelmed by the tradition, family atmosphere and academic success of the prestigious program. But during the season they captured my heart with their resiliency, determination and tenacity. All of the things I was looking for in my school of choice (and then some) were revealed to me at some point in time at Penn State. They had won over my parents and siblings with their family-oriented environment and academic prestige. I was convinced that they would always have my best interests at heart and that this was a place that would nurture and develop me as a football player and as a young man. I made up my mind. I was going to be a Nittany Lion!
I announced my commitment in October on the same day as fellow Penn State commit Chris Bell.
This was the biggest decision I had ever made in my entire life; and I was going to do everything within my power to make sure that it was also the best decision. Through the recruiting process, I had the opportunity to meet and connect with many of the best players in the country. Because of my friendship with many of them, I had already obtained their telephone numbers and email addresses. The ones I didn't have, I got my hands on. And so the phone calls and emails began. I wanted to spread the word to all who would listen. And the word was that Penn State is preparing for takeoff. Anyone who is man enough to take the ride better get with the program and get up to State College! I'm sure that my persistence was borderline obsessive, but when I look back on it all now, if it helped us to assemble the class we have put together, then it was well worth the hours spent on the phone and online.
Recruiting is such a rollercoaster ride that it is almost impossible to predict what is going to happen next. But fortunately for the Penn State family, like some sort of twisted puzzle, the pieces slowly started to fall into place. Recruits were finally beginning to see what I saw and feel what I felt about this great school up in the mountains. Maybe I had something to do with these revelations. Or maybe I was nothing more than a voice on the other end of the phone that kept recruits up late babbling. Whatever the case may be, whether I helped or not, I was happy.
Then something amazing happened. All of a sudden my friends in Maryland started to catch the bug. With some of them it took forever for me to get them to visit. But once they did it was on! They were now the ones being overwhelmed by Penn State's tradition and character. From this point on it became a circus. Recruiting trips were now being followed by commitments. Sometimes a handful at a time. Regular phone calls evolved into tales of the school's greatness and grandeur. Not even I could have anticipated that the pledges of a few athletes could have this kind of ripple effect. And the epicenter of this earthquake resided in Maryland.
I could not have been happier. With the commitments of Antonio Logan-El and Phillip Taylor, two of my closest friends on the circuit, our recruiting class was as strong as ever and we were all overwhelmed with excitement and joy. By now the calls between commits had increased to the point where I would not go to sleep at night before speaking with several of my future teammates. The closeness of the class was growing and we could not wait to sign our letters of intent and become part of the Nittany Lion family.
With signing day fast approaching, my family and I came up with the idea of having a group signing of our letters of intent featuring many of our Maryland recruits. Slowly but surely, this idea became a reality and grew into a gathering of 11 Penn State commits from five different states to sign their letters of intent together. A celebration between teammates of four years worth of accomplishments.
Earlier Wednesday I faxed out my original letter of intent at my guidance office at school in front of my father and my guidance counselor. From the school we went directly to the hotel to meet the media and do interviews. The other players got there around noon and we had the opportunity to greet each other and talk amongst ourselves in private before the press conference and signing started at one. The room in which we had the event was filled beyond capacity.
Well over two hundred people (mostly media) were in attendance and cameras were flashing all day. After we signed and held a brief question and answer session, the photo ops, autograph sessions and personal interviews began. They lasted for almost two hours. It was a long and tedious process, but the media exposure and the outpouring of love and support by the fans were both exciting and special.
After all of that was done, the players and our parents went out for lunch. My recruiting process had come full circle. I was sitting at a table with a group of guys that had become more than my friends. Subconsciously, we had all become family over time. A band of brothers breaking bread together and fellowshipping with one another; teammates at last.
We spent the lunchtime cracking jokes with one another and catching up on things before heading back to the hotel to be guests on the signing day radio broadcast. For me, Wednesday symbolized so much more than just a signing. It symbolized the culmination of one part of my life, and the new beginning to the next phase. Everything starts from now. All of the accolades and honors that have been awarded to me are no longer relevant. It is now time for all of us to prove that we were worth it — all of it. It is now time for us to add that next chapter to the story of our careers and with any luck a National Championship could be on the horizon.
The time is now!
WE ARE PENN STATE!
With a class like
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