"It becomes vitally important to be as thorough as you can possibly be in recruiting within the rules of recruiting," O'Brien said in a news conference at the Lasch Football Building in State College. "You've got to do a great job, so to speak, of leaving no stone unturned."
O'Brien managed to find the recruits and keep most of them after the sanctions came out July 23. Six high school players who originally committed to Penn State backed away, but the coach kept the two five-star keystones of the class - quarterback Christian Hackenberg and tight end Adam Breneman.
"Overall, this is a great day for Penn State," O'Brien said. "People might look at me and say, 'Why do you say that? We're in the middle of sanctions.' But this is a good day for Penn State because I think it proves a lot of things about Penn State.
"We signed some really good kids that committed to us early and stayed committed to us. They stayed committed to us when they could have gone elsewhere. That says a lot about Penn State."
While he admitted that "time will tell" about a player's ability on the field, O'Brien described the new class as "guys that came from good families, smart guys, tough guys, guys that we know are going to come here and go to class and be good in the community."
Despite the obstacles, the Nittany Lions fared rather well in rankings released by various recruiting services.
ESPN.com and 247Sports.com each had Penn State rated fourth among Big Ten teams and at 24th (ESPN) and 26th (247Sports) overall.
Rivals.com placed the Lions 41st overall and fifth in the conference, while Scout.com provided the lowest ratings, No. 45 and seventh in the Big Ten.
The big prize was the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Hackenberg, ranked the No. 1 pro-style high school quarterback in the country. O'Brien indicated that Hackenberg, who will begin classes in June, will be given every chance to win the starting quarterback job.
Hackenberg's competition is sophomore Steven Bench, who backed up Matt McGloin last season, and sophomore Tyler Ferguson, a junior college transfer who began classes last month.
"Any one of those guys could be our starting quarterback against Syracuse, no question about it," O'Brien said, referring to the 2013 opener at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Central Florida added. Penn State announced that it has completed its 2013 football schedule by adding Central Florida for a game on Sept. 14 at Beaver Stadium.
The Knights replace Virginia, which pulled out of the date so it could play an extra home game.
UCF, which finished 10-4 last season and won the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, is coached by George O'Leary. O'Brien was a member of O'Leary's staff at Georgia Tech between 1995 and 2001.
Contact Joe Juliano at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.