|Bench Press:||380 pounds|
|School:||Shenandoah, Pa. (Shenandoah Valley HS)|
Earlier this week, LionNews recapped Strath Haven linebacker Dan Connor's visit to Penn State, where the coaching staff rolled out the red carpet and showed him every nook and cranny of the program. This Tuesday (2-25), another top Pennsylvania prospect, Shenandoah Valley's Greg Harrison, enjoyed a very similar experience with the coaching staff.
Why did Penn State invite Greg up so early to view the campus?
"They wanted to get me in before junior day so they could spend some time with me and some of the coaches could meet me personally."
Greg and parents arrived in State College Tuesday morning and immediately met with the Nittany Lion coaching staff.
"When I went in, they took me to a staff meeting and I got to meet all of the coaches. They stood up and all introduced themselves, came over and were talking to me. After that I went over to talk to the strength coach, the head trainer for the team, and the equipment manager."
"I had a meeting with Coach Paterno at 11. Then we went out to eat, Coach Anderson, my parents and I, at the Nittany Lion Inn. Then I had a meeting with the academic advisor for education. We went back and I had a little meeting with Coach Anderson again. They showed some highlights of the season and the highlight film of the offensive line."
Greg, who stated he would like to major in secondary education, was impressed by the individual meeting with the advisor, while his parents were given a tour of the academic facilities.
For any person, not just a Penn State fan or player, meeting Joe Paterno is a special moment. What did the coach talk and Greg talk about in their meeting?
"I talked to him for about a half hour, forty-five minutes. He just talked about improving myself and how I really fit into their program. He said the two losing seasons were really hard on him. He feels they're really back to where they need to be and he started talking about National Championships. He also talked about when he was going to retire. It sounds to me that he will go past 2006, but not very long after that date. He wants to keep the staff intact, no matter who takes over for him."
While Greg was in Happy Valley did the coaching staff reiterate their intentions of offering him a scholarship to play for the Nittany Lions?
"Coach Paterno and I talked about that. He said he was sending the written offer in the mail today. Coach Anderson also reiterated that and asked me if I was thinking about committing yet. I told him that I would be deciding before my senior year, but it could be next week or it could be in June or July. If I felt comfortable enough, I would commit. I'm starting to get a good idea after just comparing the schools."
With an ever present need for quality offensive lineman, landing strong, agile, versatile athletes at the position seems to be Penn State's number one attribute when recruiting for its future at the position. Greg echoed an idea that the coaching staff had also told 2007 signee, Dan Mazan.
"They said said they would like to take the five best and the next five best [offensive lineman] and just put them at each position. They don't want the one of their top offensive lineman, who is a right tackle, sitting on the bench, just because he's behind another good right tackle. They said I could play guard or tackle, left side or right side, it doesn't really matter to them."
Greg expressed his comfort level with the entire situation at Penn State, including its coaches and players.
"It was very comfortable. All the coaches treated me very well. It was really neat to meet them all. I feel very comfortable with Coach Anderson. I talked to one of the players (Dave Costlow) about how things are handled there and I felt very comfortable with him."
How does Costlow, a senior center, see the Nittany Lions doing next season?
"He's excited for the season. He said they're working hard. He said a lot of good things. He didn't say anything negative. I asked him if there was anything negative and he said there wasn't. There's no team distention or anything like that. He said it's a good place to be."
"It was neat to see how (Dave) and Joe Iorio were so close. Coach Anderson took us around campus, so we were going through the HUB and going through different buildings. We were driving and met up with them (Dave and Joe) again because they were walking to class together."
So after the red carpet treatment, did Penn State rise to the top of Greg list?
"They're close. It's a very good opportunity for me, but I just want to weigh everything and make the best choice for me."
Greg's college tour does not end with Penn State, taking him to Pittsburgh this weekend. But rest assured, the Nittany Lions should be right there until the end.
(Interview by Steve Curry)