After much discussion, debate, pondering, sirens and dancing gifs, National Signing Day is nearly upon us. On Wednesday, nearly two dozen student-athletes will send in their letter of intent to become the next generation of Nittany Lions. Some will begin contributing immediately in the fall, while others will wait patiently to see the field. Either way, this class will form an unbreakable bond as they go through many rites of passage together as they navigate life as a Penn Stater.
For today, let’s search the memory banks as we ask ourselves- who was your favorite commitment to Penn State? This could either be from the time of the commitment occurring or just your general feelings with the use of hindsight.
Personally, I would choose Derrick Williams for two reasons- what it meant to the program at the time, as well as a reminder of how far recruiting coverage has come over the years.
For the more recent Penn State fans, Williams was #1 recruit in the nation in the 2005 class. Against all odds, Penn State was among the finalists that included Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. Penn State was coming off an abysmal 4-7 season and seemed like the program was destined to hit the reset button after decades of success and stability. However, Williams recognized something about this team- with one of the nation’s best defenses returning, the pieces were in place for a huge turnaround with some playmakers added to the mix.
Along with freshmen Justin King, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood, Williams helped breathe new life into a program that many thought to be left for dead. Williams became a leader of the program and went on to help the team win two Big Ten championships before being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2009.
WIlliams’ commitment was monumental considering the nation’s top recruit made the tough decision to become a Nittany Lion when the team had been hurting for success. But it was also memorable because it serves as a reminder for how far recruiting coverage has come in such a relatively short time.
When Williams held his press conference to make his announcement, ESPN made the unusual decision, at least at the time, to cover it live on ESPNNEWS. Unfortunately, my cable package carried all the ESPN stations at the time outside of ESPNNEWS. At the time of his announcement, I turned on SportsCenter and waited for the ‘breaking news’ on the ticker. And waited. And waited some more. Apparently, recruiting was not ‘ticker worthy’ in December 2004. Then I went online and searched and came up with nothing. After skipping from page to page and hitting ‘refresh’ about a thousand times, I finally received a text from a friend who happened to see the announcement and thought I’d want to know.
It’s hard to imagine how difficult it was to find recruiting updates a little more than a decade ago, especially when you consider the non-stop updates available at our fingertips, and the up-to-the-minute announcements with each commitment.
So what say you, BSD readers? What was your favorite commitment and moment from the recruiting trail that really sticks with you during your time as a Nittany Lions fan?