Although it hasn't always felt that way, winter's been officially over for a few weeks.
However, at about the same time, Penn State football recruiting has turned into the equivalent of a February snowball rolling down Mount Nittany, gathering steam and highly rated high school players en route.
Early success in the last month has turned into the gift that keeps on giving for the Nittany Lions.
"Kids don't want to be left out, but they want to make the right decision. Most of those kids have already been on campus this spring, so it's really a matter of who is going to get those spots,'' said Sean Fitz, publisher of the Lions247.com website that focuses largely on Penn State football recruiting. "It's definitely a good situation to be in.''
Penn State has picked up six verbal commitments since the beginning of spring practice, filling almost a third of the scholarships it is expected to hand out for 2012.
Landing a spot in this class might become even more competitive this weekend. The Lions will host a couple of dozen high school juniors - many of them with scholarship offers - at today's Blue-White Game.
"They've definitely got some talent coming up,'' Fitz said. "It's not a huge weekend, but it's a big weekend in terms of quality guys.''
Heading the list of probable visitors are Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt defensive end Noah Spence and Florida Land O'Lakes tight Kent Taylor, possibly the only two prospects on the Nittany Lions' board who are immune to losing their Penn State scholarship offers in a number crunch. The group also includes four other uncommitted players holding Penn State offers: Virginia defensive tackle Korren Kirven, Tennessee lineman Blake Bars, Wyoming Valley West wide receiver Eugene Lewis and Baltimore athlete Deontay McManus.
Massachusetts receiver Canaan Severin and New Jersey linebacker Quanzell Lambert, both blue-chippers, initially were expected to attend but now seem like longshots. However, current commits Jamil Pollard, Anthony Stanko and Brent Wilkerson will be on hand, as will a number of other top-notch players looking for a Penn State offer. Pollard is a defensive tackle, Stanko an offensive lineman and Wilkerson a tight end.
The Lions already have turned away a couple of promising tight ends after filling its quota at the position, and blue-chip Jarron Jones' self-proclaimed soft commitment this week was insurance that he wouldn't be locked out of the four scholarships Penn State had available at defensive tackle.
"I'm not sure that holding scholarships is going to be an option, the way that Penn State's going. You might be a very talented player, but right there is a guy that can do the same thing,'' Fitz said. "There's really no guarantees unless your name's Noah Spence.''
Fitz said he wouldn't be surprised to see more commitments come out of the weekend because of the dwindling landscape of available slots, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
"A guy like Blake Bars, who is coming from out of the area and has obviously got the Penn State connection - his brother [who is on the team] is working on him - although he doesn't want to make a decision, I go back to that squeeze on the position on the offensive line, it's possible that he comes up and looks around and says, 'Hey, I fit in here,''' Fitz said. "All of a sudden, he jumps on board, and we're looking at an even tighter situation.''
That, in turn, could persuade Boyertown's Chris Muller or Fox Chapel's Adam Bisnowaty, two touted OLs who have Penn State at the top of their list, to jump on board before some other lineman decides to take their ticket, hence the snowball effect.
Recruiting at the skill positions hasn't moved as quickly as it has in the trenches, although the Lions seem to be in pretty good standing with players like Severin, Lewis, Ohio running back Will Mahone and Massachusetts cornerback Amari Reeves. Stanko has been trying hard to get Mahone to commit, while safety/linebacker Camren Williams, the second player to pledge to Penn State, had been working on his friends, Reeves and Severin, along with several other players.
Quarterback recruiting is still somewhat in limbo until it becomes clear whether or not any of the QBs on the current roster will transfer. Bloomsburg's Blake Rankin, Allentown Central Catholic's Brendan Nosovitch and Maryland's Ian Fisher are slated to be at Beaver Stadium today and could be in line for an offer down the road.
"Looking at the class as it stands, you couldn't ask for much more,'' Fitz said. "You've got a lot of quality early. You've got a couple positions of need filling up pretty early. Right now, they're heating up, and they're going to be where they want to be heading into the summer.''