Salesianum LB relieved to be signing with Penn State

Posted: February 06, 2014

STATE COLLEGE - Troy Reeder committed to Penn State nearly a year ago, and the Salesianum product was dead set on playing his college ball in Happy Valley.

But for Reeder and the rest of the Nittany Lions' 2014 recruiting class, there was a 2-week span from late December to early January where a sure thing saw its way out, and uncertainty swept in. From the time rumors of Bill O'Brien's eventual departure from Penn State swirled to the time James Franklin was introduced as his successor, oral commitments had to reconsider their future.

Like Reeder, however, many players who committed to Penn State under O'Brien remained in the school's recruiting class after Franklin was tabbed as the program's 16th head coach. In fact, Franklin has been able to bring add an additional seven oral commits in less than a month - most flipping their commitments from Vanderbilt, Franklin's prior employer.

All the doubt the recruiting process brings can now be thrown by the wayside, as today marks the biggest day on the recruiting calendar: national signing day. The light at the end of the tunnel is a line on a piece of paper, where, with a couple strokes of a pen on a national letter of intent, high school seniors make it official where they want to play.

Reeder, a three-star linebacker who orally pledged to Penn State on Feb. 26, 2013, is one of 19 commits in Penn State's class. And with his signature comes a sigh of relief.

"This is where my future lies," Reeder said. "I talked to a lot of the other guys who were up there, including [freshman quarterback] Christian Hackenberg and he was a guy who was committed a long time, too. He said after you sign your name on that letter of intent, you feel like a whole lot has been lifted off your shoulders."

Penn State is still under NCAA sanctions and has scholarship reductions, but the Nittany Lions can sign up to 20 players in the 2014 class and have 75 scholarship players next season. The five early enrollees Penn State welcomed in January count toward the previous recruiting class.

With the scholarships in mind, Franklin has been hitting the recruiting trail and making various public appearances since he got the job, and he'll combine the two today.

Penn State will host "The Signature Event" at 6 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center, where Franklin will talk about his first recruiting class across the street from Beaver Stadium. Joining him will be former linebacker standouts Michael Mauti and LaVar Arrington. Fans can attend the event for $5 a ticket, while students may attend for free.

Franklin, who turned 42 on Sunday, has not shied away from the topic of recruiting at all since taking the reins of the storied program. In his introductory news conference, he said he wanted to "dominate the state" in terms of Pennsylvania recruiting, and when his assistant coaches were brought on board, Franklin said he wants "the most aggressive recruiting staff in the nation."

"Every single coach will recruit a portion of the state," Franklin said, referencing his staff. "They'll also have an area that is a regional area that is drivable, and they'll have the ability to recruit nationally by position."

Reeder was recruited by Vanderbilt and received an offer from the SEC program. The linebacking prospect spoke with Franklin over the phone during that process, but never got to meet him. That opportunity came last month.

A Langhorne native, Franklin paid a home visit to Reeder after a visit to some Philadelphia high schools to lay down recruiting foundations. Reeder said he always felt as if Penn State was the school for him, but he said getting the chance to meet Franklin gave him a sense of comfort.

Reeder also got to put some faces to names a few weekends ago when he and most of the recruits who committed to O'Brien went to State College to spend time with players who flipped their commitments from Vanderbilt to Penn State after Franklin headed back to his home state.

Usually, players in a recruiting class get to know each other over the course of campus visits, going to games together and group text messages. And though this class is patchworked together, new quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne doesn't think having the players mesh will be an issue, as he said Franklin builds a team atmosphere better than anyone he's ever been around.

Reeder did not seemed worried about camaraderie, either.

"We got to bond with these new guys before signing day, which I think was great," Reeder said. "Now I feel like I know and just about met everyone in our recruiting class. That's great for me, and the rest of the class feels the same way. The closer we are, the further we'll go."

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