By Kyle Musser-
No JoePa, no respect, no recruits.
With allegations for child molestation against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky the Nittany Lions recruiting for 2011-2012 may take a toll.
Joey O’Connor an ESPNU 150 offensive tackle from Windsor, Colorado was the first official decommit for Penn State.
“It was definitely a decision I had to make,” O’Connor said in an i
nterview with ESPN. “I just didn’t know what would happen. The best interest for me now is to explore my options. The whole situation is tragic. My heart goes to the victims and families. They’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.”
Penn State fans here are not optimistic about how the situation will turn out.
“Why go to Penn State to play football if Joe Paterno isn’t there and if their whole coaching staff is going to wiped out? I think that’s why players are decommiting,” said Dylan Weber a Penn Manor senior.
An unofficial visit to Penn State in July captured O’Connors heart and his commitment.
He also had offers from Arizona State, Arizona, California, UCLA, Colorado, Utah, Washington State, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Penn State had 16 commits and six four-star prospects prior to the Sandusky allegations.
Although O’Connor isn’t going to become a Nittany Lion, he believes everything happens “for a reason.”
After Paterno was fired is when he made his official decision to decommit.
Just only meeting Joe once, O’Connor said, “It was still tough to see Paterno go.”
“It’s hard to see that happen to him because I got to meet him and talk to him even if for a couple short hours,” he said in an interview with ESPN. “I felt he was a genuine person and the coaches are genuine people. It breaks my heart to see that that’s the way it had to happen.”
O’Conner isn’t the only big recruit Penn State is losing though.
J.J. Denman, a four star, 6’6″ 310 pound offensive tackle has also decided to decommit as well.
Denman, a four-year Pennsbury High School starter, is ranked No. 117 overall and 18th among offensive tackles in the Class of 2012 by Scout.com.
In a comment on pennlive.com a blogger agreed that, “This one hurts when you consider the O-line (Offensive Line) is an area that needs size and improvement. They still have a nice class in verbals but I hope the on-going offensive issues don’t chase any more away.”
Denman also had offers from Connecticut, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Louisville, Boston College, Maryland, Michigan State, and a few others.
“I had been there in the spring and watched their offensive linemen,” said the senior in an interview with Philly Sports. “When I went back, I could see how much those guys had improved. That told me that I would get the most out of playing at Wisconsin.”
Not only is Penn State losing high profile recruits, but also respect and fan loyalty.
Only 24 hours after the firing of head coach Joe Paterno, ticket resale value went down by almost 20 percent.
“It was tough to let the people at Penn State know about it,” Denman said in the same interview. “They’re good people. I just had to do what’s best for me.”