Malik Golden, WR/DB/Athlete, Cheshire Academy (CT)
A three-star wide receiver that can also play defensive back, running back, return specialist, and a number of other positions, Malik Golden committed to Penn State way back in August, but that wouldn't be the end of Golden's recruiting process.
Golden would wind up being the last Penn State commit to stick with the Nittany Lions before The Thing broke, and keeping him on board was a hard sell for the new coaching staff. In early December, Golden took a visit to Iowa to see the Hawkeyes, and many Penn State fans felt it was now a toss-up between the two schools. Once Coach O'Brien and staff arrived in Happy Valley, though, Golden reaffirmed his commitment, and is now looking forward to getting up to Penn State.
Golden was rated as the No. 3 prospect in Connecticut by 247Sports, behind Casey Cochran (UConn) and Tevaun Smith (Iowa). Scout gave him a three-star rating and named hi the 58th best WR in the country. In addition to Penn State and Iowa, Golden held offers from Boston College, Syracuse, and UConn.
A lot of people think that Golden will end up on the other side of the ball, given the depth (or lack thereof) in the secondary. But he was recruited by Penn State as a wide receiver, and expressed a desire to play there initially.
"When I saw him, I'm kind of jealous, kind of selfish. I saw the athletic ability with him going both ways and making plays," said wide receivers coach Stan Hixon. "I guess the DB coach wasn't here yet, so I kind of hopped on him before the DB coach came here.
"From talking to him, I think he wanted to try receiver. We're not going to turn away any good players. The main thing is getting him in the fold, get him into the family, and the best players are going to play. He's one of the better athletes that I've seen, also."
Naturally, Golden had apprehensions after the scandal, but decided to stick with Penn State. Why?
"My coach has a good relationship with Coach O'Brien and Coach Strollo, and he told me that they always do the right thing and I should just give it another shot. I went there for another visit and all the commits connected and we all just decided to stay."
I spoke with Malik this week, and he had some further comments on the scandal, and its impact on his decision to stick with Penn Stte.
"When they didn't have a coach, I just thought it wasn't as stable. But then when they got Coach O'Brien, that's when I realized that Penn State is where I want to be."
When I spoke with Golden, he was just anxious to get up to Penn State and play some football with his friends.
"I'm anxious and nervous because it's a new setting, but at the same time I just can't wait to get up there and start working out. I'm going to start out at wide receiver, but if they need help at corner, I can move over.
"It's definitely more of a team thing, but I think this is a special year because it's the first year without Coach Paterno, and everyone is going to want to see how we do. But from a team standpoint, that's the most important thing."
Golden is very good friends with Jake Kiley and will be rooming with the New Hampshire defensive back when the two of them get on campus this summer. But all of the Class of 2012 recruits have formed a special relationship, having been through quite a lot.
"All the recruits coming in, we've all been talking. Now we're just really getting close.
"I've talked to Silas Redd, Malcolm Willis, me and Stephen Obeng talk a lot."
All that's left is to play some football. Malik is certainly ready.