The recruiting trickle down from the Jerry Sandusky scandal and subsequent Joe Paterno firing has begun, and some significant prep football names are suddenly shedding doubt on whether their futures will be in Happy Valley, Pa., after all.
According to Rivals.com's Penn State affiliate BlueWhiteIllustrated, the first official de-commitment from the Nittany Lions came Thursday in the form of Windsor (Colo.) High offensive lineman Joey O'Connor. The lineman is unlikely to be the only top recruit to bolt from the Big 10 power. Significantly, two top-tier Pennsylvania recruits raised doubts about their Penn State commitments on Thursday; one happens to have a rather well-known father.
Skylar Mornhiweg, the son of longtime Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhiweg, refused to comment on his commitment to Penn State when he was reached by the Philadelphia Daily News. Mornhiweg, one of the top senior quarterbacks in the state of Pennsylvania, has been pinpointed as a likely major contributor to the Nittany Lions, where he would follow in the model of Kerry Collins and some of the school's other great drop-back passers.
The younger Mornhiweg's radio silence about his commitment was only amplified by his father, who issued a terse statement essentially shutting down any prospect of comment from the family.
"My son has advised me that he'd rather I have no comment on the situation," Marty Mornhiweg told the Daily News. "And I'm sure he'll come out and speak one of these days and I think it will be quite a while. So we'll see."
The younger Mornhiweg's reputation has only grown during his senior season at Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's Prep, where he has passed for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns with a Thanksgiving Day game still to come. The Daily News reported that he was recently named MVP of the Catholic League's AAAA division.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the state a star with a less famous surname also appears to be having second thoughts about the Nittany Lions. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Shaler (Pa.) Area High tight end and linebacker J.P. Holtz said he was going to wait until the ever-changing Penn State situation calmed down before deciding whether to honor his commitment.
That comment came despite Holtz's contact with Tom Bradley on Monday night. Bradley has since been named Penn State's interim head coach. After that conversation, Holtz said he was 100 percent committed to Penn State. Two days later, that sounds a lot less certain.
"I'm just going to wait and see what happens now," Holtz told the Post-Gazette.
Naturally, the fluidity of the Penn State situation could affect recruiting throughout the remainder of the period for the 2012 class. While most current recruits would likely root for Bradley to be given the coaching job on a permanent basis, Penn State might instead opt for a higher-profile head coach before national signing day to try and lure some remaining big national names.
That still won't necessarily cure the uncertainty that has beset teenagers who thought their future was in Joe Paterno's steady hands only to find the owner of those hands shockingly disappear on a November Wednesday night.