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Colleges chasing Penn State players, prospects

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Jim Ference | Tribune-Review file
Belle Vernon offensive tackle Dorian Johnson (left) verbally committed to Penn State last month but did not comment following the announcement of the NCAA's sanctions.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

College football coaches wasted no time pursuing Penn State players and committed prospects upon learning that the NCAA sanctions against the university will allow them to transfer and be eligible to play immediately.

One WPIAL observer called it a feeding frenzy, comparing it to vultures circling their prey.

“The conduit they're using is the high school coaches, because they're not allowed to call the kids directly,” said Canon-McMillan athletic director Guy Montecalvo, who coached Nittany Lions linebacker Mike Hull. “I can't get off the telephone, literally.”

Montecalvo said he spoke with Hull, whose father and uncle played at Penn State, after being contacted by a handful of BCS programs to gauge Hull's availability.

“Surprisingly, he's considering it,” Montecalvo said. “That doesn't mean he's going to (transfer), because he's deeply entrenched.”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney called Penn State's four-year bowl ban and reduction of 40 scholarships over that span lengthy, broad and significant, and said the conference is considering waiving a rule preventing Penn State players to transfer within the Big Ten without sitting out.

“It depends on how committed the players are who are there,” he said, “how willing they are to become part of a future, a new day.”

Belle Vernon senior Dorian Johnson, a prized offensive tackle who chose Penn State last month, remained mum about whether he would honor his commitment. On Monday, Johnson tweeted: “If you plan on calling me/texting me about this today...STILL NO COMMENT.”

Belle Vernon coach Aaron Krepps said Johnson is still committed to Penn State “as of right now,” but added that it will be a “family decision.”

“They're going to have to figure out what's best for him — whether he stays with Penn State or not,” Krepps said. “It doesn't appear they're in any type of rush, and don't want a knee-jerk reaction at this point.

“It's a tough situation for not just the recruits, but also the players and the coaching staff up there — people who weren't involved. I just want to make sure Dorian does what's best for him.”

Clairton wide receiver Tyler Boyd said Penn State “is no longer my top school” but added that he has not completely dropped the Lions off his list. Instead, they have moved to the bottom, behind Arizona, Arizona State, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“When I met with coach (Bill) O'Brien, he was really impressive,” Boyd said. “He's the only reason they are still on my list.”

Gateway junior safety Montae Nicholson, who has a scholarship offer from Penn State, said he is “definitely” still considering the Lions despite the sanctions.

“They do have a strong football program, but I think they have a strong academic program, as well,” he said. “But it is my dream, and I would imagine every other high schooler's dream, to play in the national championship or a bowl game. But, in the end, I'm worried about the academics, so I'm not going to shy away from it.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kgorman@tribweb.com or 412-320-7812. Staff writers Chris Harlan and Mark Kaboly also contributed to this report.

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