The start of the Bill O'Brien era at Penn State also brought the start of a new recruiting philosophy when it comes to quarterbacks: before an offer is extended to any signal caller, they will be heavily evaluated, both by the head coach (O'Brien) and quarterbacks coach (Charlie Fisher).
It includes ingesting plenty of film -- see Michael O'Connor -- who the Lions trekked to Florida to see after evaluating the Class of 2014 verbal commitment's film. It also includes in-person evaluations -- see Jake Waters -- who Fisher evaluated in Iowa before the Lions extended an offer. Waters ultimately ended up at Kansas State.
Whether Class of 2015 quarterback Brett Brumbaugh will receive an offer is still up in the air. An important first step was taken Tuesday, though, when the junior-to-be came to University Park with his father for an unofficial visit. It marked a chance to learn more about the Lions and see how he might fit into their scheme. The visit lasted from 9 a.m. to about 6 p.m.
He liked what he saw.
"I've been hearing from them since toward the end of my sophomore year when they watched me throw," Brumbaugh said. "They wanted me to come up for a camp, but I couldn't make it, so they invited me to practice.
"It was nice getting to go there and check out the facilities, meet the players, sit in on meetings and see how things are run. I liked the intensity they ran things with."
Defenses have been intent on finding a way to stop the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder who was a 2,000-yard passer in 2012, but have yet to come up with a formula to do so. He added 37 touchdowns to his ledger last fall, something he credits to having all his playmakers on the field thanks to the team's heavy usage of three- and four-receiver sets.
"Offense is all about making the right reads on deep or short balls, and then letting your receivers finish up," Brumbaugh explained. "My biggest strength is making good decisions."
He saw similarities in the offense his Lions run compared to the ones at Penn State. But make no mistake: O'Brien's offense has a lot more complexities. It's something Brumbaugh seeks in the college offense he will eventually direct. The opportunity to make checks at the line of scrimmage and audible in and out of plays intrigues him.
"I loved how sophisticated their offense was," he said. "It puts more importance on the quarterback to make audibles and changes, but it's freedom within a structure. I like the idea of their quarterbacks being able to trust Coach Fisher and Coach O'Brien to be able to change the play, and doing things you see at the line. It makes you a better quarterback."
He said a meeting with an academic advisor was another highlight of his trip. Unsure of what he desires to major in, it was a chance for him to learn more about what the Lions have to offer, and compare it to what he's heard about the academics offered at the university.
It's a task made easier by following the lead of his brothers, who both played quarterback in high school. Luke Brumbaugh ended his recruitment by selecting Robert Morris, while Christian ended his at William and Mary. Both have proved to be a well of advice, most importantly reminding him that the high school season Is about winning games rather than focusing on recruiting.
"I got to talk to one of the academic advisors, and that was very nice," Brad Brumbaugh said. "Penn State is very high on academics, and education is important to me. It was nice to talk to him, and learn what I need to do to get into Penn State if I ended up going there.
"I also saw the campus dorms and got a tour of campus. The weight room stood out most, though. It caught my eye, as did the stadium, which is really awesome."
He intends to visit both schools that have offered him for a game this fall, and hasn't ruled out trips to any of the other programs that are showing him interest. It will all depend on his schedule, he said.
And the success of South Fayette's season may very well depend on him, which is why Brumbaugh has set personal goals of throwing for more yards than a year ago while also having a "very good" touchdown-to-interception ratio. Zero interceptions is one number he hopes to see at the end of the season. He'd also like to improve his speed -- his 40 time was last clocked at 5.1 seconds -- arm strength and footwork.
The visit to PSU helped him realize the type of effort that goes into making that sort of improvement.
"I noticed how hard everyone was working [at Penn State]," he said. "You can just tell that, even though the sanctions hit them, they still want to compete at the highest level.
"It was nice. It was my first visit to a school, and having my dad along helped me pick up on some things that I didn't. I felt it was very important to visit, and I have to keep working and keep making sure I'm doing the right things."