Before I move on with the article, I just want to give a quick shoutout to Smee for designing this awesome banner that will be the official Penn State Recruiting banner going forward. Clicking on any part of the banner will immediately send you the the recruiting homepage for Black Shoe Diaries. I was unreasonably picky with how I wanted it to look, and he never once complained about redoing the banner three or four times. So take a second to thank him if you're talking to him in the comments section. But now back to business...
Josh Barajas (Merrillville, IN) is a 4* inside linebacker recruit according to the 247Composite rankings. He committed to Penn State back on March 30, despite being seen as a heavy Notre Dame lean for nearly his entire recruitment. A quick look at his Crystal Ball will confirm as much. As the class stands right now, Josh is the 5th most highly ranked recruit in the class, but when you take into account the job Franklin and co. did to sell Penn State over Notre Dame and the position he plays on the field, his commitment means far more than that. But Josh can tell you more about that himself...
What was it that led you to decide to pull the trigger for Penn State?
Out of all my visits, I never really felt that comfortable. I felt comfortable with other coaches and the places, but this was just...there was no other feeling like it when I went down there. Just the coaching staff was awesome. I think the real question is how could you not commit to Penn State with that coaching staff and the way they run things down there.
What went into the timing of your commitment?
There really was no definite reason, but I think the direction that Penn State is headed in, I wanted to be able to hop on board and help out. I really believe in the program and I didn't want to wait. I didn't want to wait two months when I knew this was the one. I just wanted to hurry and hop on board.
You named Notre Dame your top school publicly a few times, but now you have shut your recruitment down completely. Was there anything about Notre Dame that pushed you towards Penn State, or was it really just the impact Penn State made on its own that led to your commitment?
Nothing was really bad. Notre Dame is a great program and I really like their coaching staff and everything they've been doing and everything they've done. Penn State, I just felt a little more comfortable, that extra little thing at Penn State just made me pull the trigger.
What has the staff told you so far about how they plan to use you?
With the depth at linebacker right now, if I do things right and I work hard in the weight room and get everything done, I could potentially see a lot of playing time as a freshman. They plan to use me on the outside at the SAM backer more than a big middle guy. I'll be put in space and on the edge.
For those that don't know, a SAM linebacker is the Strong Side linebacker.
If the staff asked you to redshirt, is that something that you would be willing to do, or would you rather avoid that altogether?
Of course everybody wants to play as a freshman. Of course if they think I need to redshirt I will. Whatever's best for the team, I'm going to do it.
What are you doing on the recruiting trail right now to try to add to the awesome recruiting class that is being assembled?
I'm just talking to a lot of the commits right now. We're trying to figure out a plan to talk to some other people, some other big recruits around here.
How much pride do you take in being a part of the #2 recruiting class in the country?
I take a lot of pride in it. It's a blessing. Not everybody gets to be a part of something as big as that. I'm really excited for it. That's a huge deal, a huge huge deal. I'm so glad I can be a part of it and help out, and help put Penn State back on the map more than it already is. We're gonna shock the world.
What's your favorite part of playing linebacker?
I definitely like to deliver the hit. Making the big hit or the big play and celebrating. That's the best.
All the facilities and everything were beautiful. The campus was so nice. All the areas around it, all the land, I really like that kind of setting. That's my type of place. A lot of land and quiet. Not on game day though. It's a real football town.
Shock the world indeed. Thanks for taking the time to talk, Josh.
You can follow Josh on twitter at @ScoopNScore11.