More On PSU Recruiting

Among the most insightful sessions at Penn State's Football Fantasy Camp earlier this month was with Mike McQueary, PSU's wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator. McQueary walked us through the ins and outs of the PSU recruiting process — targeting, offering and pursuing prospects. Go behind the scenes in the second part of our series.

If you missed the First Part of this series, you should read it to learn how the Nittany Lion staff determines which prospects get offers, what they look for in a prospect, as well as some other inside aspects of the recruiting process.

NCAA rules prevented McQueary from addressing specific recruits the Nittany Lions are targeting this year. But he was able to discuss the recruiting process in general terms. Here is some more of what he had to say on the topic.

Getting Answers

In the previous article we talked about how the PSU staff requires the coach representing a prospect at the offer table to know practically everything about that player. Coach McQueary talked about the need for accurate information and where they get it from.

"You gotta trust them," McQueary said, talking about the recruits coaches. The staff depends on them to not only relay information in certain circumstances, but also for information on the player (like answers to many of the questions we posed in First Part). As he said, "Now do I know the coach? Do I know him well? Do I trust him?"

"However, as a recruiter you'd better go to four or five other sources and find out and verify your information," he said.

Going JUCO

"We usually don't go JUCO," McQueary explained. "But the decision came in this year where we said we have some holes in our linemen class depth — we had some kids where things didn't work out and we thought — and maybe [the JUCO prospects] aren't going to be starters, but they are going to be those seventh and eighth guys we need."

This was a significant debate among the coaching staff given PSU's traditional approach with JUCO prospects.

Scholarship Count

McQueary talked about the current scholarship situation, saying, "Right now if you look at the current team we lose nine kids through eligibility that are currently on scholarship next year. At most you can take, what, eleven kids — at most."

He stressed that these scholarship numbers (a maximum of 25 per annual class and 85 overall in any given year) adds a significant complexity to recruiting, which many tend to overlook.

Knowing Your Target

He talked about various topics around knowing what makes a prospect tick. He mentioned the recruitment of Nathan Stupar, a State College native, saying, "We had a kid last year from State High and he had over 25 offers. I think half the reason we got him and we got him early is because I bonded with him — I told him I went through the same thing — I saw him play a lot of basketball and football games as a junior and I made a point to tell him 'Hey, we didn't take your brother, but I am taking you — you're a State High kid and you're a guy who belongs at Penn State.' And I think he embraced that."

He talked more on the topic, relaying the importance of knowing your prospect and talking about one of his own recent recruits, Josh Marks, saying, "He was a straight-laced guy. The thing that got him was I took him fishing. And you would be amazed at what gets a kid.

"He caught five bass in about 30 minutes. Now I don't take just anybody fishing, I had to know what Josh Marks wants. You'd better know what your recruit is before you plan a visit. He [grew up on a farm] — he goes fishing or hunting almost every day of his life. He's from the rural area."

You also have to know who your opponent is, as he explained, "My first other school was [an urban campus]. He's not going fishing there. So I didn't get him if I am the head coach I am firing McQueary, really. If I didn't get him, I did a horrible, horrible, horrible job."

Conditions on Offers

McQueary talked about extending offers for open positions, explaining, "We would never put out 10 offers for two open position spots, we'd probably put out four or five."

He went on to explain that there are strict conditions around the offers due to the limited open spots. As he said, "Now, if we get one [of the two open spots] and now I am on the phone with the [undecided] player or his coach and I am saying, 'Just so you know, Joey committed yesterday.'

"We do no rescind [offers]. What we tell them is that the clock is ticking and the very next guy who comes is in and you're out then." The offer is conditional on Penn State having an open spot at the position, but "we'll never yank it away — we give them forewarning. It could be tomorrow or it could be a month from now, but the clock is ticking just so we're upfront and honest."

Star Gazing

McQueary talked about the recruit rankings, saying, "44 percent of this year's NFL draft were four or five stars. So if there's 250 kids drafted 114 kids were four or five stars. So those other players had to come from somewhere. Don't get caught up in the stars."

The Plan

McQueary was asked about negative recruiting related to Joe Paterno's age and recent injuries.

As he said, "We don't get nearly as much of it as people think. We really don't. [Recruits] will ask about what's going to happen here [when Paterno is no longer coach] and we encourage them to ask that right to Joe's face and the answer is what it has always been — it is going to be someone who we know; who has been here or coached here or played here and moved on or is currently on the staff. And that is the way it is."

Self Criticism

He talked about the incredible pressure he puts on himself to get the job done on the coaching and recruiting fronts, saying, "You have to be tough on yourselves as a staff and recruiters. As big of critics as the fans or message boards think they are, we are way tougher on ourselves than people would ever imagine."

Stay tuned for more insight from Penn State's recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary as he continues to provide insight about the Nittany Lions' recruiting approaches.

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