Is new recruit a sign of the times for Penn State?

Penn State’s newest verbal commitment came from a defensive back with a decision to make.

Go to Penn State to play football? Or get a Harvard education?

The undersized-but-talented Gaines decided his passion for football couldn’t be quenched in the Ivy League. So, he took the best football scholarship offer he has gotten, weighed it against the sanctions and announced yesterday that he will attend Penn State.

“I really didn’t think of the NCAA stuff as a big deal,” Gaines told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Obviously, no one wants to go through anything like that. But I just think it’s a great opportunity for me anyway you look at it. They chose me to be part of building the program, so I feel honored about that.”

Gaines is a terrific football player. But his size doesn’t allow him to be considered a blue-chip recruit. He’s 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, and that doesn’t generally get a two-star recruit (according to Scout.com) a scholarship offer from Penn State. But these are changing times, and Gaines fits the three criteria that the bulk of Penn State’s recruiting classes promise to be over the next four years.

1.) He’s an impeccable student.
2.) He’s a bit off the radar, as far as being a prime-time recruit goes.
3.) He’s super productive on the field.

Listen, Penn State is still going to land some bigger prospects. They still have a really good shot with Christian Hackenberg. It still seems like Adam Breneman has his heart set on being a Nittany Lion, too. And how good Penn State can be going forward depends on how well they can still get potential stars like Hackenberg, Breneman, Brendan Mahon and Garrett Sickels to honor commitments, as well as getting and then coaching up some of the more underrated prospects that other schools simply undervalue.

Kasey Gaines isn’t taking a huge risk attending Penn State, as far as missing out on bowl games is concerned. Assuming he redshirts in 2013, he will play for two Nittany Lions teams that will be eligible for bowls. He can be involved, like he said, in building the program back or simply maintaining where it is, depending on what your expectations are. That kind of challenge appeals to more kids than you think.

Of course, this isn’t a recruiting technique Bill O’Brien and his staff are going to have to invent. Joe Paterno and his staff did a pretty fair job finding underrated kids who were smart and looking for a challenge (challenging themselves, mostly) over the years. Look at John Urschel, in fact. When he was offered a scholarship, he was like Gaines a two-star prospect who had better grades than athletic ability. But he worked hard, hit the weight room, studied the older players, and became one of the best guards in the Big Ten. Penn State is simply going to have to find some good players where nobody else is looking. It won’t be easy. But it can be done.

If you’re interested in doing some amateur scouting, here’s video of Gaines playing during his junior season:

And here’s some video of him competing as a sophomore:

Read This Article: Is new recruit a sign of the times for Penn State?



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