Some random observations while smelling the football in the air:
n Penn State is in the midst of a strong recruiting stretch as the Nittany Lions have received an impressive 16 verbal commitments, including three highly-touted players this past week. If you'll recall a year ago at this time, the Lion verbals could be counted on one hand. Despite his latest injury, Joe Paterno plans to be around as long as possible, and the recruits apparently aren't shying away. All eyes are now on Harrisburg defensive end Noah Spence, who could elevate the Nits into a top-10 class nationally. And with an 84-year-old head coach, that is nothing short of amazing.
n Did you see where former Lion Paul Posluszny signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for $45 million - including a $15 million signing bonus? Between his Blair County ties, the kind of kid he was to deal with at PSU and the fact that he slipped into the second round when originally drafted by Buffalo in 2007, I've never been happier for a PSU player's success.
n For those who like to dabble, the season over-unders on Penn State and Notre Dame are eight and nine wins, respectively. Pitt and West Virginia haven't been established at last check. Altoona native Tony Sinisi, formerly the director of Las Vegas Sports Consultants and now an independent oddsmaker focusing on college football, advises that PSU will be a home dog against Alabama (-8) and Nebraska (-2).
n A .500 record, if the Pirates achieve it, ought to be enough to earn Clint Hurdle the National League Manager of the Year award. Hurdle practically had the honor locked up until the recent swoon.
n The lifelong volunteerism of Tom Stout, Danny Wilson & Co. to the Kelley Federation has been impressive, but the breakdown in communications on the last day of the recent NABF Tournament was a disservice to the league's rich history and its participating teams.
n Congratulations to Lilly Conrad Chiropractic American Legion, which won its eighth Greater City Baseball League championship in the last nine years - the most incredible dynasty in any of the local recreation leagues. I would be curious on the opinions of City League vets Rege Myers, Jim Ronan, Pat Miller, Chris Glass and the Brothers Hoenstine on how Lilly would have stacked up against Thomas Chevrolet at its peak.
n The Mansion Park Summer Basketball League remains the best small-town outdoor league of its kind, over time, in America.
n There may be more great young golfers in this region than any other sport can boast. Then again, golf may be the toughest of all the professional sports to crack.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.