The 2010 Penn State recruiting class was highlighted by two highly touted quarterbacks signing on to play their college football with the Nittany Lions.
But come Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va., the game may come down to a player the Lions did not sign or even offer a scholarship to that year, one who has many family ties to PSU.
Michael Rocco will lead Virginia into its game against Penn State as the starting quarterback of the Cavaliers. And for many longtime PSU fans, the last name Rocco may be a familiar one.
Michael's father, Frank Rocco Jr., was a quarterback on Penn State's 1982 national championship team. In addition, his grandfather, Frank Sr., served as an administrative assistant at Penn State for 19 years (1982-2000) and also coached the tight ends during the 1985 season.
Rocco grew up a Penn State fan, living in Pittsburgh until he was 9 years old. He visited his grandparents in State College often and attended PSU games in his younger years before moving with his family to Virginia.
By moving out of Pennsylvania and becoming more involved with sports as he grew up, Rocco said his trips back to central Pennsylvania became less and less. The last time he said he saw a game in Beaver Stadium was in 2009.
Rocco said he's treating Saturday's contest against the Lions as "just another game." But he also added it does have a little extra meaning being able to play against the team he grew up going to watch play and where his father has so many fond memories of winning a national championship.
"Watching Penn State and seeing the blue and white traditional uniforms, even though they have their names on the backs now, is a cool experience," Rocco said on a teleconference Monday. "But being at the college level now and playing against great teams every week, I am treating it as another game."
Coming out of high school, where Rocco played for his father at Liberty Christian Academy and was a four-year starter, he originally committed to Louisville. But a coaching changed prompted Rocco to open back up his recruitment.
Two of the schools in Rocco's final top five were Penn State and Virginia.
Penn State had already signed the third- and eighth-ranked quarterbacks in that year's class in Paul Jones and Rob Bolden, respectively, according to Scout.com. Joe Paterno offered Rocco a chance to grayshirt, which means to delay enrolling in college by a semester to keep an athlete's eligibly from beginning.
Rocco eventually decided to accept a scholarship offer from Virginia. He said Virginia coach Mike London is a man of great faith and character and that first drew him to becoming a Cavalier.
"Once I talked to Coach London and made my decision to come here, I was fully committed," Rocco said. "I became a Cavalier and haven't looked back since then."
The junior said he harbors no ill will against Penn State and his father's alma mater for not offering him a scholarship outright during the recruiting process.
When London came to Virginia three years ago, he also brought along Bill Lazor to be his offensive coordinator. Prior to coming to Virginia, Lazor had spent seven seasons in the NFL as the quarterbacks coach for the Seahawks and Redskins and as an offensive quality control coach for the Falcons.
"When Coach Lazor got the job, that was kind of icing on top of the cake for me," Rocco said. "So I really had no doubt in my mind where I needed to be and where God had me placed."
This will be the second week in a row Rocco has ties to the opposing team.
Last weekend, Virginia opened the season against Richmond. The game marked the debut of the Spiders' new head coach, Danny Rocco, who is Michael's uncle.
Michael got the better of his uncle in his Richmond debut by throwing for 311 yards and leading the Cavaliers to a season-opening 43-19 victory.
He credited both his dad and uncle for helping him with his development as a man and as a football player. Rocco said having two people in his family still involved in football has helped him immensely.
"My dad went through basically everything that I am going through," Rocco said. "His knowledge is something I lean on and look to a lot just to get through certain situations of a Division I college football program."