|School:||Strath Haven High School, Wallingford, PA|
When you're the most talked about linebacker in the state and your high school has made it to the championship game four years in a row, you're good enough to get your own special day. Strath Haven HS's Dan Connor, ranked by LionNews as the # 1 Player in Pennsylvania, had the opportunity to have the full attention of the Penn State coaching staff two weeks ago. Did he enjoy his trip to Happy Valley?
"I spent the day (Thursday 2/13) there from about 9 o'clock to about 5:30. It was unbelievable. I met all the coaches, had a meeting with Coach Paterno and talked with him for about 45 minutes. I watched some film with Coach Vanderlinden. It was just unbelievable."
"We got in there and Coach Vanderlinden came out and we walked into a coaches meeting, so they all got up and walked over and it was the entire staff. It was unbelievable meeting all those guys in person and talking to them, it was something else."
What did Dan and college football's winningest coach talk about for forty-five minutes they spent together?
"He was just trying to sell the school, trying to tell me about the academic parts of it, how the program's going to go, and what his deal would be in the future, how long he would be staying. He said that he's going to try to go as long as he can. In 2006, he said he's going to reevaluate and see how he feels and then resign until 2011 if he feels like coaching."
"He was telling me about the linebacker situation and how I would factor in if I went to the school. He said that they're a little lighter than they would like to be, so he said I could come in and have a pretty good shot at being able to start within the four years I'm there. It was a pretty good selling point and it makes you feel good if you can play in big time football like that."
Before his meeting with JoePa, Dan and his parents were given a guided tour of the entire Penn State complex, including meeting much of the support staff.
"We got to talk to the strength and conditioning coach for a while. Then we got to talk to the team doctor for a while and we were checking out the health offices, where they get taped and stuff like that. Then we got to talk to the academic people to see what the situation is with study halls and tutors. Then we talked to Coach Paterno and went to lunch with Coach Vanderlinden and Coach Ganter. We just got to meet everybody and meet each coach."
After the tour and lunch, Dan had the opportunity to watch what he would be doing if he decided to attend Penn State.
"At the end of the day we sat down and were watching a linebacker tape, talking about some things."
"[Coach Vanderlinden] is great. I got to work with him over the summer, he's an unbelievable coach. His knowledge of football is unbelievable. I really had fun working with him. It was definitely a lot of fun watching film with him, getting a grasp on the defense."
Dan did not have the opportunity to speak with many Nittany Lions players. His good friend and former teammate, Josh Hannum, could not see Dan because he had a case of the flu.
After the Connor's traveled to Penn State, they headed south to get a look at the University of Maryland.
"We went to Maryland Saturday for a basketball game. We got invited a little early to talk to Coach Friedgen. We got the official offer in writing. They invited me for the basketball game, which was right after that, but we really didn't stick around. We just wanted to meet the staff and get a quick look at the facilities and then we came home."
"It was nice down there too. We got to meet the staff and talk to Coach, so it was pretty impressive."
Just recently, Dan has cemented himself as one of the most offered prospects in Pennsylvania, receiving offers from both Michigan and Michigan State. So what locations are next on the Connor's campus tour?
"We're not going anywhere right now. Maybe in the middle of march we'll go to visit West Virginia and Syracuse, just kind of play it by ear once we get an open weekend from track (Dan throws the discus, shot, and javelin)."
Did the Nittany Lion coaching staff question Dan to see if he was nearing a decision?
"They were trying to find out when I'd commit, but I wasn't ready to commit right then. They know it's going to take a little time before I can check out the other schools and make a decision early."
Although Dan does not feel comfortable enough to make yet, he did offer his take on how his visit to Penn State turned out.
"The meeting was definitely interesting and a success in my opinion."
(Interview by Steve Curry)