The abdications of those eight players - almost all of whom were four- and five-star prospects - had the effect of reducing what would have been a very good Penn State recruiting class to one that ESPN rated as only the 46th best in the nation, and seventh best in the Big Ten Conference.
Joey O'Connor, a 6-4, 295-pound guard from Windsor, Colo., was the first player to reopen his recruitment after decommitting from Penn State. He signed yesterday with Ohio State, as did defensive tackle Tommy Schutt, outside linebacker Camren Williams and athlete Armani Reeves.
Also signing elsewhere were tackle Jarron Jones, with Notre Dame; quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, of St. Joseph's Prep, with Florida; offensive lineman J.J. Denman, with Rutgers; and tight end J.P. Holtz, with Pitt.
The staff assembled by O'Brien - Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden, who are holdovers from the late Joe Patewrno's staff, and six new hires - did a laudatory job, all things considered, retaining 10 players who had verbally committed to Penn State prior to the Sandusky scandal, and bringing in nine additional players. One of those, linebacker Nyeem Wartman, decommitted from Penn State, but reconsidered and returned to the fold.
The 6-6, 310-pound Denman, a Yardley resident who played his high school football at Pennsbury, switched from Penn State to Wisconsin before changing his mind again and signing with the Scarlet Knights.