In the wake of the crushing sanctions levied by the NCAA and Big Ten on Penn State, two of coach Bill O'Brien's star recruits in the class of 2013, Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg, have to decide whether they will remain steadfast in their commitment to the Nittany Lions.
Breneman, the nation's top TE recruit according to Rivals.com, texted The Patriot-News on Monday night and reaffirmed his commitment to PSU after the NCAA's announcement.
“Although I am still processing and discussing the impact of today's announcement with my family and coaches, I did speak with Coach O'Brien and his staff and I remain committed to Penn State,” he texted, according to the paper.
Breneman's decision is even more complicated after he tore his ACL earlier this summer and will miss his senior season at Cedar Cliff. The surgery was done by Penn State's team doctor, Wayne Sebastianelli.
“Adam's high school career is finished,” his dad, Brian, told The Patriot News' Andrew Shay. “He's already working towards enrollment. We're kind of fully into this thing.”
On Breneman's twitter account, his father wrote on Monday, "We will not be making any comments regarding Penn State or Adam's recruitment at this time. Thank you - Brian Breneman."
Christian Hackenberg, a highly-touted QB from Virginia, is the other gem of Bill O'Brien's 22nd ranked recruiting class (247sports.com) and is one of the few people who understands the dilemma facing Breneman. Hackenberg was at the Elite 11 QB camp in California when his dad, Erick, told ESPN's Mitch Sherman that his son still had confidence in Penn State. It's important to note that Erick's comments came prior to Monday's announcement.
“It's very important, in our eyes, just to see how it plays out,” the elder Hackenberg said. “A lot of people would walk away from it. That's not us.”
Should they stay, neither will play with a fully stocked team, as the NCAA will reduce Penn State football scholarships from 25 to 15 for each of the next four years. Penn State will be forced to play with a maximum of 65 scholarships, 20 less than the rest of their Big Ten counterparts and only two more than is allowed in 1-AA football.
The recruiting class also will have to steady itself if current PSU players choose to transfer schools, a right granted to them by the NCAA's President Mark Emmert. This caveat maintains that PSU players can transfer to Big Ten schools without losing a year of eligibility, which is the standard in traditional circumstances.
Finally, Breneman and Hackenberg wouldn't be able to compete for a Big Ten championship or even appear in the Big Ten title game, until their senior seasons in 2017.
Coach O'Brien, a former New England Patriots TE coach, told the Dan Patrick show on Monday that he'd sell recruits on his NFL experience and the academic prowess of Penn State. Only time will tell whether the stain of Sandusky will overwhelm their decisions.
Note: The other star of O'Brien's recruiting class is five-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson and according to ESPN's Dave Hooker, he remains committed to the Nittany Lions.