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Coach speak with Bill O'Brien: 'A lot of good stuff' going on in recruiting

October 3, 2012
By Cory Giger ( , The Altoona Mirror

A capsule look at Bill O'Brien's weekly news conference.

Opponent: Northwestern (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)

Last time vs. Penn State: The Lions won on the road last year, 34-24.

Article Video

Kickoff: Saturday, noon

Television: ESPN

Line: Penn State is favored by 3; over/under is 49

Recruiting, part I: O'Brien gave a lengthy, passionate response when asked about recruiting in the wake of the NCAA sanctions. "I will tell you that when the sanctions happened, I know that everybody said, 'Uh oh, here we go, what's going to happen to Penn State?'" O'Brien said. The coach then went on to say that between 40-50 recruits have been at every home game and again stressed the importance of being on national TV every game and the positives about PSU, such as a good coaching staff, good education and playing in front of big crowds.

Recruiting, part II: O'Brien also stressed that PSU can help players get to the pros and noted every NFL team has had a scout at practice so far. "OK, the [scholarship] numbers ... are not equal to the other teams out there. We understand that. As a staff we have to do a great job of understanding that. But at the end of the day, you know, I've been very, very impressed with the fact that people really, really enjoy being recruited by us, coming to the games here. ... So is it going to be hard? Yeah. Recruiting's hard, recruiting's hard. But at the end of the day, I think there's a lot of good stuff."

Scholarship strategy for kickers: With only 65 scholarships from 2014-17, getting a top-flight punter or place-kicker could be tough because the best ones will get free rides somewhere. Whether or not to offer a kicker a scholarship, O'Brien said, is "a strategy that we are talking about every day, and it's an ever-evolving strategy, but that's something that we are very well aware of."

Top priority: PSU's former strength and conditioning program had been questioned for many years, and O'Brien told a telling story about his first meeting with LB Michael Mauti after getting the job. "That night I had a team meeting. He came right up to me after the meeting and had a lot of questions about our strength and conditioning program," O'Brien said. The players have raved about new strength coach Craig Fitzgerald since he was brought onto the staff.

Good bye time: The Lions get a bye after this week, then will have six games remaining. "I do like the fact that the bye week comes in the middle of the season. That's good," O'Brien said. "To me that's a good time for a bye. You've had a long training camp. You've had the beginning of your season and there have been some tough, physical games, so that's one good thing."

-- Compiled by Cory Giger

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