Star Qb Backs Out Of Penn St. Commitment On Dec. 7, Dan Kendra Said He Would Play For The Nittany Lions. Now He Says He'll Play For Florida State.

Posted: January 14, 1995

His high school coach calls him a Greek Adonis. His father says he's just the kid who takes out the garbage. In State College, they're probably calling him a traitor. Odds are that in Tallahassee, they're already calling him a pro at running the quarterback sneak.

Three months before colleges mail their acceptance letters - but one month after he said he would attend Penn State - Dan Kendra has decided to go to Florida State.

"Believe me, it's no big deal," his father, Dan Kendra Sr., said yesterday. "It happens all the time. It's just an 18-year-old boy picking a

college. Millions of kids do it every year."

But only one of those kids is the nation's No. 1 high school quarterback, the most sought-after recruit in the country. And Dan Kendra, a senior at Bethlehem Catholic High School in Bethlehem, Pa., is that kid.

On Dec. 7, in the living room of his family's Allentown home, Kendra told coach Joe Paterno that he would play for Penn State. He planned to make the decision binding on Feb. 1, the first day players can sign national letters of intent.

If it did nothing else, the oral commitment gave Kendra time to reflect. Recruiters backed off, and the relentless attention of the media diminished.

"The last month, he's had time to himself," his father said. "When he had time to sit down and think about it, he made a decision to go to Florida State. I'm concerned about where my son is going to go and be happy. I'm not concerned about no football player. Because if you're not happy, you're not going to produce.

"To me, there's no ifs, ands or buts. I'm backing him. I think anybody who is a true friend, they'll back him also."

Among those the Kendras hope understand the decision - if not back it - is Paterno, who, by NCAA law, is prohibited from commenting publicly about prospects before Feb. 1.

"It's been an ongoing process," said Diane Kendra, the quarterback's mother. "Coach Paterno, I think, knows that. This is what this trial period is. It's when you debate things."

Kendra's parents said that on Feb. 1, when their son signs his letter of intent, he will elaborate on his decision to become a Seminole.

In the meantime, theories about Kendra's change of heart abound. The most prevalent one involves the relationship between Kendra's father and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. Dan Kendra Sr., now 39, played quarterback for Bowden from 1974 to 1977, when the coach was at West Virginia.

In addition, Florida State's offense is a high-powered one built around its passing game. Despite quarterback Kerry Collins' aerial success this past season, Penn State, by contrast, traditionally has geared its offense around its rushing game.

At Florida State, Kendra will be No. 3 on the depth chart at quarterback. Danny Kanell, a junior, started every game for the 10-1-1 Seminoles this past season. Thad Busby, who is considered their quarterback of the future, will be a sophomore next season.

A four-year starter at Bethlehem Catholic, where his father is the quarterbacks coach, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Kendra passed for a school-record 6,087 yards and rushed for 1,949 in his high school career. He has run the 40- yard dash in 4.48 seconds and has bench-pressed 365 pounds.

His high school coach, Bob Stem, says Kendra is the most dedicated player he has run across in 45 years in the game, 13 of which he has spent at Bethlehem Catholic. Yesterday, however, he questioned Kendra's decision, unable to reconcile how a player with such phenomenal commitment could reverse

himself.

"I'm big on commitment," said Stem, 55. "And I'm a little upset about that part of it. I think it's a moral thing. Sometimes you don't realize, with a commitment like this, how many people it affects around you. And it certainly did affect an awful lot of people."

Stem said he had not seen Kendra, who could not be reached yesterday, for two weeks. He said he saw Kendra's father on Wednesday. He said no mention was made of Kendra's decision.

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