Despite NCAA sanctions of Penn State being likened to the "Death Penalty," the Nittany Lions appear to at least be on life support with a good number of the program's 2013 class confirming their verbal commitments this weekend.
The latest big name recruit to solidify his standing with the program and first year head coach Bill O'Brien is four-star defensive end Garrett Sickels of Little Silver, N.J. Sickels originally gave a verbal to Penn State on Mar. 4 but following the chaos involving the sanctions, reaffirmed to the program on Saturday afternoon via Twitter that he in fact remains committed:
"We are the 2013 class. @BigBabyMahon @chackenberg1 @AdamBreneman87 @Will_Fuller7 @ANelson59"
The tweet from Sickels was directed towards five other players who comprise half of the Penn State recruiting class. Other players followed up with a similar message, including four-star quarterback Christian Hackenberg (@chackenberg1), whom the program feared might be eyeing other offers in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and cover-up. Hackenberg tweeted on Saturday afternoon: "Love this 2013 class."
Hackenberg was perhaps the most vocal recruiter of the class.
The other players included in the tweet from Sickels included four-star offensive lineman Brandon Mahon (@BigBabyMahon), future U.S. Army All-American Adam Breneman (@AdamBreneman87), three-star wide receiver Will Fuller (@Will_Fuller7) of Roman Catholic in Philadelphia, Hershey, PA offensive tackle Andrew Nelson (@ANelson59) and the aforementioned Hackenberg.
The program received a boost Friday when Brennan Franklin committed to the program. The Peoria, Ariz., linebacker became the first player after sanctions to verbal to the program. Penn State was his only BCS offer.
The Penn State class, currently at 12 verbals, seems to have solidified around a core of six players right now. The No. 7 quarterback in the nation, Hackenberg along with future U.S. Army All-American tight end Adam Breneman were seen as the cornerstones of this class and their tweets were important in O'Brien maintaining some momentum this offseason.
It hasn't been all good news for the Nittany Lions, who predictably are seeing a certain amount of upheaval. Beyond the much speculated transfer of running back Silas Redd, linebacker Khairi Fortt and quarterback Rob Bolden, there have been other blows to the program in the past week.
Penn State lost several recruits from this year's class, including Dajaun Drennon and Greg Webb, both of whom rescinded their verbals on July 21 and committed to North Carolina. In addition, class of 2012 lineman Jamil Pollard, a four-star recruit, is looking to transfer out of the program.
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