From Wednesday’s Journal News:
When Penn State hired former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien as the head coach of its football team earlier this month, it was handing him the keys to what once had been a highly-regarded program but was now one beset by sexual assault allegations against a former assistant coach, resulting in the ouster of legendary coach Joe Paterno, as well as the school’s president and athletic director.
Less than two weeks into his new job, O’Brien has signed his first recruit to help restore the program to its former glory: New Rochelle resident Jordan Lucas.
The Worcester Academy defensive back, who previously attended New Rochelle High School for four years, signed with Penn State on Monday morning, declining offers from Akron, Massachusets, Old Dominion and Temple.
“It’s a great football program and academic school with a great tradition,” Lucas said. “Coach O’Brien wants to hit the ground running and do big things, and I want to be a part of that.”
Lucas has been told that he will be given the chance to compete for Penn State’s starting safety position next season. He also played cornerback and running back at Worcester and New Rochelle — he was named the AA-South section Back of the Year in 2010 — and expects to get some chances to put his speed and athleticism to use in Penn State’s return game and special teams.
Of course, next year’s Nittany Lions are entering a situation that few, if any football teams have ever experienced. With Paterno gone, the name “Penn State” no longer carries the cachet that it once did. This, however, cannot be said for Lucas and his family.
“Penn State still has a great tradition, a great graduation rate and of the largest and most involved alumni,” Jordan’s father, Vincent Lucas said. “If anything, there will be more press next year. You don’t turn down a Penn State.
“Some people shy away from it. We don’t.”
Lucas had been on Penn State’s radar for a number of years. His father, along with Guy Fortt, the Regional Director of ForrSports, a company whose mission is to help put local student-athletes on radars of colleges throughout the country, and one that Jordan credits with helping him get noticed, had been in touch with Penn State. Fortt’s son, Khairi, is a sophomore running back for the Nittany Lions. But it wasn’t until O’Brien was hired that the Lucas’ began to hear from Penn State.
“For someone like that to come in and have that interest in you, it’s great, “ Vincent Lucas said. “Jordan gets to go to a great school and get a great education for free. You can’t beat that.