A couple of days ago, Jordan Lucas was getting his things packed so he could enroll early at Temple.
Today, Lucas holds the unique distinction of being the first Penn State football recruit of the Bill O'Brien Era.
Lucas, a 6-foot-1, 182-pound defensive back, became the 15th member of the Nittany Lions' 2012 recruiting class and the first since O'Brien was named as successor to Joe Paterno after assistant coaches Ted Roof, Ron Vanderlinden and John Butler visited him and made him a scholarship offer on Monday.
"I never really thought about it until I heard somebody say it, but that's big. I'm glad to be his first commit,'' Lucas said. "Coach O'Brien accepted this as a challenge, and I take it as a challenge, too. I think that program is going to keep rising. He wants to take the program to the top and keep the tradition going, and I want to be a part of that. That's why I picked Penn State.''
A Worcester, Mass., Academy teammate of Canaan Severin, a wide receiver who eventually picked Virginia over Penn State, Lucas also was weighing an offer from UMass. UConn, Rutgers and Virginia recruited him but didn't
extend a scholarship offer.
A Miami fan growing up who watched a lot of Penn State games, too, Lucas was at Penn State to see the Nittany Lions host Alabama, but he didn't get an offer until Roof approached him recently. Lucas said Penn State sees him at free safety, although he's played both cornerback and safety in high school.
Lucas was supposed to being taking classes at Temple on Tuesday.
"I was surprised. It was nothing I was expecting. I was getting ready to go to Temple for a week here, and they came out of nowhere late in my recruiting process. I'm glad I waited,'' Lucas said.
According to Worcester coach David Dykeman, in eight games this season, Lucas rushed for 920 yards, caught passes covering 450 and scored 12 touchdowns, including three on punt returns. He also had two interceptions, but Dykeman said had to move him from cornerback to safety halfway through the year so that teams couldn't so easily avoid him by going to the other side of the field instead.
"He has tremendous athletic skills, and he has tremendous ball skills. He's a great tackler. He was a lockdown corner for us, and, at safety, he was a ballhawk,'' Dykeman said. "On offense, he was a running back, he was a quarterback and he was a receiver. We utilized him in every facet you could imagine. As a punt returner, he returned three punts for touchdowns in the first two games.''
In a 40-6 win over Northfield Mount Hermon, Lucas returned the first two punts he fielded for touchdowns and took the third to the opponent's 5. He also caught a 20-yard scoring pass, rushed for 120 yards and blanketed Mount Hermon's best receiver the entire game.
"Jordan flew under the radar coming out of his junior year simply because he was really behind the 8-ball academically. He worked his tail off his senior year and his postgraduate year to get that stuff cleaned up,'' Dykeman said. "Football wasn't the issue.''
Before last season, Lucas was a three-year starter at New Rochelle, N.Y., High School. During his time there, Lucas became friends with current Nittany Lions Khairi Fortt and Silas Redd on the camp circuit.
"It was for academics and maturity,'' Lucas said of his reasons for transferring to Worcester. "I didn't feel I was ready to be at a four-year university [coming out of high school].''
Lucas, who wants to major in communications, also runs track - he's record a time of 11.0 seconds in the 100 meters. He has been playing football since third grade.
"I was a rough kid. My parents figured this kid needed to hit somebody. I took karate for a little bit, but that didn't work out, so football was the next thing,'' said Lucas, whose favorite player is Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry. "I started out playing defensive end.''
Vanderlinden, Butler and new defensive coordinator Ted Roof also dropped in on soft commits Camren Williams and Armani Reeves while in Massachusetts. The Catholic Memorial School four-star duo are slated to visit Ohio State in the middle of this week and then make their official visits to Penn State along with Lucas on the weekend of Jan. 27 - O'Brien is expected to have more time on campus that week because it will be an off-week for his New England Patriots even if they are in the Super Bowl. Reeves also is still considering Michigan, which he visited over the weekend.
Meanwhile, assistants Charles London and John Strollo were in the Buffalo area to see running back Akeel Lynch and his top blocker at St. Francis Prep, Miles Bartholomew. Lynch, who recently began drawing attention from Oklahoma, has now decommitted from Boston College.
A large contingent of recruits were at University Park this past weekend for their official visits to Penn State, including all of the other previously committed players except for Williams, Reeves and Jesse James, who is already enrolled. They were joined by uncommitted safety De'metrious Cox from Jeannette.
Most of the early internet reports from the weekend were positive, and Maryland tight end Brent Wilkerson, who had been to Nebraska recently, reportedly reaffirmed his commitment. The staff seems also to have done a good job mending fences with Connecticut commit Malik Golden. It was believed likely Golden, originally recruited as a cornerback but now being brought in as a receiver, would decommit and instead sign with Iowa or UConn. Golden expects to have a final announcement soon.
The new staff already has made several new offers. One has gone out to Jonathan Warner, son of former Nittany Lion great Curt Warner and a wide receiver from Washington; he's expected to be at Penn State this weekend. Two more reportedly have been extended to Birmingham, Ala., linebackers Beau Hankins and Harding Harper, who are high school teammates.
Also on the list of probable visitors for this weekend are receiver Trevor Williams and West Virginia defensive back commit Da'Quan Davis of Baltimore Calvert Hall, the alma mater of current Lion cornerback Adrian Amos. In addition, Sean Fitz of Lions247.com broke a story on Monday that Georgia quarterback Steve Bench, who made a Rice commitment but is being pursued by Mississippi State and North Carolina, is scheduled to be on campus, as well.
Websites also are reporting Penn State has a commitment from Maryland long snapper Joe Marvin to come in as an invited walk-on.
While Reeves and Williams are considering their options, one former Nittany Lion recruit, Colorado offensive lineman Joey O'Connor, made his choice on Tuesday. O'Connor committed to Ohio State, where he'll join another former Penn State recruit, defensive tackle Tommy Schutt.