Josh Marks Picks the Nittany Lions

After an unofficial visit to Penn State earlier this week, things became clear for offensive lineman Josh Marks. He knew where he wanted to play college football. And Friday evening at a press conference in his high school auditorium, Marks let everyone else in on his future plans: he will be a Nittany Lion.

Marks, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound four-star prospect from Southern Columbia Area High in Catawissa, Pa., is the second commitment for Penn State's Class of 2006, joining touted Michigan linebacker Chris Colasanti.

Before settling on a winner, Marks narrowed his list to two schools: Penn State and Pitt. Though he selected the Nittany Lions, Marks was complimentary toward the Panthers, specifically praising the Pitt coaching staff.

“It was one of those things, it really did come down to the wire between Penn State and Pitt,” Marks said in a one-on-one interview with FightOnState.com. “To give Pitt props, if someone told me two years ago that I would be interested in Pitt, I would have said no way. They've always had good teams and traditions, but when you think about going to play football for a major team in Division I, you think of Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and teams like that. You don't think of Pitt. But when my folks said we were taking a trip to Pitt, I said OK. The coaching staff is really great. That was the one thing that interested me about Pitt.”

However, after taking an unofficial visit to Penn State earlier this week, which included bass fishing with recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary, Marks said his mind was made up.

“It just boiled down to that I've always liked Penn State,” Marks said. “This past weekend, I just felt … I just really felt like I could make Penn State my home.”

Though Marks knew he wanted to commit to Penn State by the end of his visit, he almost did not notify the staff. In fact, initially Marks left State College with his family without mentioning anything to the staff.

“It was around four-o'clock, and my family met with Coach Paterno,” Marks said. “We got in the car to leave and we were ready to get on Interstate 80. I was ready to commit right there, but I didn't want to do anything without talking to my parents. I was talking to them in the car. I was telling my parents how much of a great time I had and [his mom] said, 'Well then why don't you commit?' I said 'I wanted to talk to you guys.' ”

So the Marks family turned around and headed back toward University Park.

“My mom was like, 'You know I had my questions answered.' And my dad said all his questions were answered, too,” Marks said. “My mom said, 'Lets turn around and go tell them.' We drove back 15 minutes and I told Coach McQueary that I was committing to Penn State.”

While many factors went into Marks' decision to commit to the Nittany Lions, he said Penn State's tradition was one of the more attractive aspects of the total package.

“There were a lot of things that weighed into my decision,” Marks said. “I like the tradition Penn State has. I probably could have waited around a couple months and possibly got an offer from Ohio State or Michigan or other schools that were sending me handwritten letters. But the way I looked at it, Penn State has just as good, if not better, tradition than any of those others schools. To have a school in your backyard like that, why would I go away from it?”

Marks also indicated that distance was a factor. With his family residing in rural eastern Pennsylvania, his trip from home to school is fairly short.

“My parents and I are real close,” Marks said. “I honestly don't think either one of my parents has missed a game from midgets through junior high and high school, no matter the weather. My mom was nine months pregnant and she was coming to my games. My whole family in general — my grandparents, aunts, uncles — it's just going to be easier for them to come to the games. Other than that, the campus is beautiful. The coaches, I really got along with them.”

Above all of that, Marks simply said there was an overall positive vibe about Happy Valley.

“To be honest, the thing that really made me pick was that I couldn't find anything I disliked at Penn State,” Marks said. “I thought long and hard of a reason to not go to Penn State and I couldn't come up with one. That was one thing that helped my decision.”

In a year where Penn State is limited in its scholarships, an offer from Joe Paterno is a hot commodity. However, Marks indicated that irrespective of how coveted an offer from the Nittany Lions is, he did not feel pressured to commit.

“It wasn't so much a factor in my decision, because a Penn State offer any year to any person is a large honor,” Marks said. “Even when the scholarships aren't limited. I think that the Penn State offer in and of itself would have been hard to turn down with all of the qualities they have.”

One of the big questions surrounding Marks' recruitment has been where he will play on the offensive line once he hits college. He has the measurables to play tackle, a position of need in this year's recruiting class. But as of now, the staff is looking at him primarily as a guard.

“When we talked about it, Coach McQueary said they've moved tons of guys,” Marks said. “He said I'm being recruited as a guard, but they want to put the five best lineman on the field. If they have three great guards and one of those guards is better than one of the tackles, then they'll move a guard to tackle. They'll put me wherever I can help the team best.”

Finally, Marks said that he is very excited about joining the incoming Penn State recruiting class.

“I want to let the fans know how excited I am,” Marks said. “Penn State has one of the best fan bases … I can't say one of the best, it's THE best in the nation. That really excites me. I'm really excited to play in front of 110,000 people and I have a lot of respect for the fans.”

See Josh Marks in Action:

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