Tommy Stevens flipped his commitment from Indiana to Penn State late last week, on November 10th. Tommy is a 247Composite three star recruit, out of Indianapolis (IN), and is one of the top 20 dual threat quarterback prospects in the 2015 recruiting cycle. Standing at 6'4" and 200 pounds, he is a sight to behold on the field, using his über-athleticism to make plays with both his arm and his feet.
When I spoke with Tommy back in early October, it didn't appear as if a flip in his commitment was in the cards. However, after his father urged him to visit Penn State, he came away extremely impressed. He chose to finish his senior season before making a decision about his college destination, and that decision led him to choose Penn State, where he is now planning to enroll early.
I'd like to add a quick personal note, and thank Tommy again for being so willing to talk about his recruitment with me. He is a great guy, and will be a great asset to Penn State University. That's enough from me though, let's see what Tommy has to say!
What was it that finally led you to making your decision?
Well, when I went to Penn State and took a visit, there were a lot of things for me to see there that I had never seen- I'd never been to Pennsylvania before. So it was definitely fun to go out there. I didn't make any type of decision until after our season was over, because we were just starting to head into the playoffs and I didn't want to take any kind of distraction from our team or myself personally. I didn't want to get distracted and have it be about me instead of the guys that I grew up with. I wanted to finish out the season with them before I made any kind of decision. In terms of making that decision, there are lots of things that I could tell you that has maybe put them over the top. I don't know what it is, it just felt right. The place is incredible, they treated my family and I very well and..there are many different things I could say. They treated us very well down there and there was just a feeling that I knew that I'd be back eventually.
You never did get a chance to head back to IU. Was there reasoning behind that, or did it just not work out?
There wasn't really a reason. We had Saturday morning practices once the playoffs started, so it made it hard to visit anywhere. Like I said, I didn't want to be distracted by anything, because we were trying to win football games. I wasn't trying to avoid IU in any way. If Penn State was 30 minutes away from my house, I wouldn't have been visiting there either.
How did the conversation with Coach Wilson and the other Indiana coaches go?
It was hard, I knew it would be hard. Probably one of the hardest conversations I've ever had to have in my life. But at the same time, I knew I had to be up front with them and be a man about it and tell them how it was. They were disappointed, but I think that they understood. It definitely speaks to the character of the coaching staff at IU, and I still have tons of respect for those guys and I wish them the best in the future. I truly believe that that program's moving in the right direction. It just wasn't what was best for me. At the end of the day, you have to think for yourself, too.
You've mentioned that it was your father's idea to take the Penn State visit in the first place. What was the reaction from your parents on the visit?
They really liked it. I knew that they really enjoyed themselves. They were a little bit concerned because Penn State is eight hours away from my home, but that was really their only concern about it. Terrific place, all the way around, great atmosphere, you name it, top to bottom, it was awesome. They know that I have to do what's best for me. Selfishly, they want me to be closer to them, obviously. But they told me to do whatever's best for me, and they're going to support me regardless.
We've talked in the past about how you were hanging out with Sterling Jenkins and Matt Burrell a lot on your official visit. How much contact do you have with those guys?
I talk with Sterling all the time. It's funny how things work out, Sterling's probably going to be my roommate because we both want to enroll early. I've developed a pretty good friendship with him. Both of us are trying to get Matt here. They're both good guys, and I really had a good time with them.
(On Tommy enrolling early- He told me that once he completes his classes this semester, he will be all set to enroll early at Penn State. So that bit of new news is confirmed, assuming he passes those classes.)
What are you most excited about in regards to coming to Penn State?
College is going to be exciting, it's going to be a big step in my life. It's something I'm really excited about. But I think the thing I'm most excited about is the opportunity that I see is there, within Penn State football. That's one of the biggest things that I could see on my visit. It's an awesome place.
How do you envision yourself fitting into the Penn State offense?
Really good, actually. I know Coach Franklin and Coach Rahne want to get back to some of the stuff that they succeeded with at Vanderbilt. It's nothing against Hackenberg because he's a tremendous quarterback, but it's not really the right scheme for him, and I think that's why he's struggling right now, because it's not the right scheme for him. They're trying to do some things that work for him also, but I definitely see them using a dual threat quarterback in the future, and I think I can definitely fit that well.
Being a fellow quarterback, is there anything in Hackenberg's play that you're noticing?
He's a heck of a quarterback, and he's someone who I think will definitely be in the league one day. I can't speak highly enough of him, real awesome dude, humble, all of the above. He's just a tremendous guy. It just kind of sucks because it's going to look bad on his part because of the situation that he's in right now, because like I said, it doesn't fit with his playing style. It's no fault to him, I know he's going to succeed wherever he goes, but it sucks that it's hurting his draft stock not being in the correct system, if that makes sense. But at the end of the day, you just have to go out and play. Forget the schemes, forget the coaches, it's still just football. You just gotta go out and play.
(ED NOTE- Tommy was not implying that Hackenberg is transferring, as I see many of you have started thinking. He simply meant wherever he ends up in the NFL. - NP)
Aside from the quarterback situation, what do you see in the team right now that you like or dislike?
There's a lot of things that I did like. I think the future is really bright, because it's a young football team. They've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing, a lot. I think that's definitely something that will be used to our advantage here in the future. Those younger guys getting playing time, having the experience can really make the difference.
What do you feel is your best attribute that you will be bringing to the Penn State program?
There's a lot of things that I think that I do well, on the football field or off the football field. I think the biggest thing that helps set me apart, is possibly my will to win. Not only that, but my leadership. I've always been called a leader since as long as I can remember. Then, my competitiveness has really put me over the top I think, and played a big factor in my success. I've always been competitive and I've always felt like I wanted to be the best, and I can't remember a time I've ever been okay with losing. I remember crying over a game of checkers that I lost in front of Cracker Barrel, so there's just little examples like that. I think that helps me a lot, the way that I've been brought up, but I just think that those are my key things that have helped me, and I can't wait to put all my other attributes on the table and help us win some games.
Do you have any idea when you're going to make it back for a visit?
I'm not sure yet. I think the plan is, and I'm not even sure if this is set in stone, but I'm hoping I can make it for the Michigan State game. That would be awesome if I could make it back for that one, because that would be a big game to be at. If not, I'm not sure when I would make it back. Who knows?
Are you tracking who the big targets left in 2015 for Penn State? Obviously there's Matt [Burrell], but are you recruiting anyone to Penn State right now?
Oh, yeah. Right when I decided that I was going to commit to Penn State, I immediately got the guys that are on our list, and I've been recruiting those guys really hard. My main guy I've been talking to, like you said, is Matt [Burrell]. I really want him to come join us. There's a few other guys, I'm not allowed to release who those guys are unfortunately, but I can tell you that Matt is somebody that we are heavily on and trying to get.
How about 2016 guys? Are you watching the three quarterbacks that are considering Penn State (Brandon McIlwain, Dwayne Haskins, and Jake Zembiec)?
A little bit. I've heard of Haskins, I've seen his stuff, he's a tremendous player. I've seen some stuff on Zembiec on twitter not too long ago, but I haven't really been in contact with any of the 2016 guys. I have been seeing stuff on twitter, I'll keep up with the loop and see what's going on, because those guys could be my teammates one day.
Any final thoughts, any way to explain how excited you are?
It's awesome, it's an awesome feeling. I'm really exciting about the future, and about the opportunity that's there, and I'm very excited to be a Nittany Lion.
Thanks again to Tommy for a great interview. If you're a fan of twitter dot com, you should follow him at @TS3_ERA.