The fallout for Penn State football recruiting in light of the NCAA sanctions will be immediate and longlasting, say recruiting experts.
In the past two days, two Penn State recruits for the 2013 class have said they are backing out of their commitments to the school. The father of Avon, Ohio, cornerback Ross Douglas said on Monday his son has reopened his recruitment and defensive tackle Greg Webb from Timber Creek (Sicklerville, N.J.) switched his commitment over the weekend from Penn State to North Carolina.
That doesn't count incoming or current players at Penn State, who are free to leave without penalty. Gilman (Baltimore) football coach Biff Poggi told USA TODAY Sports he spoke Monday with Alabama football coach Nick Saban regarding former Gilman offensive lineman Brian Gaia, who would have been a freshman at Penn State.
"The better kids are going to want to get the exposure you get from bowls, so they will leave," Poggi said.
Calvert Hall (Baltimore) coach Donald Davis said he recently began contacting college coaches on behalf of the three players he has at Penn State: freshman defensive back Da'Quan Bowers; freshman wide receiver Trevor Williams; and sophomore cornrerback Adrian Amos.
"We've made contact with a number of coaches to let them know it's a fluid situation," Davis said. "They could all stay at Penn State, they could all leave or somewhere in between. You can't feel good for what is going on."
If current players are likely to leave, recruits who won't get to Penn State until 2013 are even more vulnerable.
"This entire recruiting class could be in peril, especially since there's a four-year bowl ban," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman. "For the players coming in next year, you're looking at playing in a bowl, at the earliest, your senior year or redshirt junior year. That kind of limits your exposure. And that's if they're still good enough in four years to play in a bowl after the scholarship reductions."
One player who could be a tipping point for Penn State recruits is quarterback Christian Hackenberg of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, who was recently in the Elite 11 quarterback camp and is rated as the top quarterback in the 2013 class by ESPN.com. Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said Hackenberg told him the first schools he would contact if he decided to leave Penn State would be South Carolina and Auburn.
"The entire 2013 class is going down the tank if Hackenberg and Adam Breneman (a tight end from Camp Hill, Pa.) leave," Farrell said. The 2013s have no real ties to Penn State and knowing with sanctions, they will never play in a bowl, makes it more likely for them to leave. With the 2012 players, I think on a major scale, you're going to see Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and some SEC schools that will come in and poach some of these kids. For the middle-of-the road guys at Penn State, schools like West Virginia, Pitt and Rutgers will benefit."
CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said Penn State football can weather the storm if it recruits more selectively the next two years.
"If everyone stays the course, if they bring in 15 quality players a year, they'll be back," Lemming said. "They have the great facilities, the great tradition. It's really up to (Bill) O'Brien. He has to get a contract extension. The players who will want to play at Penn State, the in-state kids and ones with alumni ties, will still go there."
Southern California athletic director Pat Haden said the lack of scholarships hurt his school the most when it was hit by NCAA penalties.
'At USC, we found that the most difficult part of our NCAA sanctions has been the reduction of scholarships. ... You have to be very judicious in recruiting, you have to be lucky with injuries and you have to guard your roster from players being recruited by other schools. It is an inexact science and you have to do the best you can. Our coaches have handled these challenges extremely well."
Many recruits were not willing to comment on Monday. However, Garrett Sickels, a defensive end from Red Bank Regional (Little Silver, N.J.), tweeted: "So let me get this straight, Penn State didnt break any ncaa laws, but they are punishing those who had nothing to do with what happened."
Another 2012 signee Evan Schwan, a defensive end from Central Dauphin (Harrisburg, Pa.) tweeted Sunday that he was staying, regardless.
"No matter what happens tomorrow #PennState will remain my home for the next four years," Schwan tweeted.