ORLANDO, Fla. - Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien can't make contact with any football recruits until the current dead period ends Jan. 4, but he has a secret weapon.
Christian Hackenberg - a 6-4 quarterback from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy who has stuck with his commitment to the Nittany Lions despite the Jerry Sandusky scandal, NCAA sanctions and the team's early on-the-field woes - is doing his share of recruiting here at the practices for the Under Armour All-America Game.
“Our recruiting class is something we take pride in and we've done a good job so far,” Hackenberg said, “so we're going to see how many other guys get to come on board and ride the rocket ship with us.”
Hackenberg never wavered publicly from his pledge to sign with Penn State next month, but concedes he felt better about his choice once the Nittany Lions rebounded from 0-2, going 8-2 the rest of the way.
“As they started winning a lot more and I talked with Coach O'Brien and knew he was ready to stay, from there I was ready to go,” Hackenberg said. “That's where I want to be at.”
Gilman (Baltimore) defensive tackle Henry Poggi, who has said he plans to sign with Michigan, said it’s only natural for players to want to sway others to their selected school.
“When you get around these kids, there’s a lot of school pride,” Poggi said. “A lot of the uncommitted kids here are really sought-after.”
Running back Alvin Kamara, who helped lead Norcross to the Georgia AAAAAA state title, is one of 29 players listed as undeclared on the roster for the Under Armour Game (5 p.m. ET, Friday, ESPN).
“We all know each other,” Kamara said. “We all know what each other can do and with me being uncommitted, everybody here is ‘Come here, you'll play!’ So, it’s all fun.”
Kamara said he doesn't know when he will make his college choice as he still has to set up his official visits.
“I’m not letting anybody rush me into anything, not letting anybody pressure me into anything,” he said.
Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.) running back Kelvin Taylor has said he will sign with Florida. He’s not so sure he can push any of the Under Armour undecided prospects the Gators’ way.
Not that he isn’t trying.
"If they’re going to Florida, they’re going to go," Taylor said. "The only one I am working on is No. 1 (defensive end Robert Nkemdiche). That’s the man right there. That’s the only one I'm trying to persuade, but he probably already has his mind made up.”