Penn State had a couple of big home games this season to use as a showcase for football recruits.
None of them, though, might mean as much as today and Saturday will to the Nittany Lions.
More than a dozen recruits are scheduled to take official visits to Penn State this weekend. Ten of those are high school seniors that already have announced plans to sign with the Nittany Lions.
"I'm excited," said Adam Breneman, the blue-chip tight end recruit from Cedar Cliff who made an early verbal pledge to the Lions and has remained committed. "It'll be good to hang with all the guys, all the commits. And there'll be a few uncommitted guys up there, some guys that I know pretty well, but we're going to spend a bit more time with those guys.
"Hopefully we'll gain a few more commitments from the weekend."
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and U.S. Army All-Americans Brendon Mahon and Garrett Sickels will be among those joining Breneman. In fact, the only members of the Lions' current 13 verbal commitments in this class who won't be there are Maryland running back Richie Anderson, Alabama defensive tackle Parker Cothren and Florida defensive back Neiko Robinson.
A good cause
Penn State recruit Adam Breneman recently completed a speaking tour to raise awareness about ALS, of which he had a friend afflicted.
His efforts have helped raise more than $100,000 toward the study and treatment of what is most commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."
Anyone interested in finding out more or making a donation can go to www.catch-the-cure.com.
Robinson was supposed to come up this weekend, but he'll be playing in the state championship instead. Cothren and Anderson already made official visits to Penn State.
Along with the committed contingent will be at least four players still looking for a college destination: former Lion commit Zayd Issah, the linebacker from Central Dauphin, Alabama linebacker Jonathan Walton, Virginia receiver DaeSean Hamilton and Georgia cornerback Deondre Singleton.
"They're all legitimate targets, guys that can come in and fill out the class. There are some pretty talented players there," said Sean Fitz of Lions247.com. "It's going to be a big weekend thanks to all the committed guys coming up, but, if you want to see results, that's where you look, at the uncommitted guys."
Issah actually had committed to Penn State in the middle of the year but called it off after the NCAA announced its scholarship reduction and bowl ban. When the defending Pennsylvania Class AAAA co-player of the year got an offer from childhood favorite Oregon, most wrote off Penn State's chances.
However, in the last couple of months, the Lions seem to have re-emerged as a serious player to land Issah. Fitz thinks the distance to Oregon, although that's where Issah was born, is an advantage for Penn State. Breneman, who has known Issah for a while, is optimistic, too.
"I feel really good about Zayd coming back on board. I think he knows Penn State is where he is meant to be," Breneman said. "I hope he commits really soon."
Hamilton (6-foot, 182 pounds) has about a dozen scholarship offers, including Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan State and Miami. Penn State is the biggest offer for Walton (6-1, 227), while Air Force and Marshall are the top colleges pursuing Singleton (6-0, 175).
The visitors will go through a number of meetings with coaches and current players along with getting a chance to see what life is like on campus. The biggest thing, though, might just be getting around potential future teammates and seeing how they bond.
"I think it'll be good for those guys to be around our class and see how cool the guys in our class are and how close we are," Breneman said.
It also will be a big weekend for the Lions in terms of a visit taking place half a country away in Manhattan, Kan. That's where highly touted junior college quarterback Jake Waters is taking his official visit this weekend.
The Wildcats are Penn State's stiffest competition when it comes to Waters, who is from Iowa. Bill O'Brien has shown an interest in bringing in a JUCO quarterback with only true freshman Steven Bench on the current roster at that position. Waters is one of the best and just took his team to a national championship.
"I like where Penn State stands right now with Jake Waters. Bill O'Brien will be out there on the 10th to check in with him and do an in-home visit. But he had a very good visit when he was in for the Indiana game," Fitz said. "He's a good system quarterback. I think he's a guy who can make some throws and make some plays with his legs. He's a smart kid. That's just what the offense would need. And I saw he just got bumped up to a four-star [rating] on 247Sports.com and is one of the top two or three quarterbacks, junior college-wise."
If Waters picks Kansas State, the Lions already have made arrangements for California junior college signal-caller Tyler Ferguson to take an official visit next weekend, Fitz has reported. Waters, who broke Cam Newton's junior college record for completion percentage, also heard from Alabama this week, but the Tide had not offered a scholarship as of Thursday morning.
Even with the sanctions, Penn State has at least five more scholarships available for this recruiting class because Breneman, Anderson and D.C. defensive back Jordan Smith all will be enrolling in January and will count as 2012 players. Waters also would be an early enrollee.
Although Robinson picked Penn State sight unseen, Fitz isn't concerned that he'll decommit on the Lions.
"He wanted to visit for the Ohio State game, but the coaches would rather have him spend a little more time since he hasn't been to Penn State yet," Fitz said. "He likely be coming in in January. I wouldn't panic. The competition right now is Minnesota. I like where Penn State is."
Fitz thinks linebacker and the secondary are the two positions where Penn State would most like to add recruits in the next couple of months. They've also been involved with several running backs, including Philadelphia's David Williams, Clairton receiver Tyler Boyd and defensive tackles like Alabama's Rod Crayton.
"It they can end with a bang, that's really a credit to them, because this is a staff that has not only had to work hard to get players in but to keep players here. I think they've done a heck of a job at that," Fitz said.