Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Larry Johnson: master recruiter

Despite what the message boards and (some) recruitnics might tell you Penn State is doing a fine job of plucking good talent from the state of Maryland, much to the dismay of Terps fans.

Penn State has won most of the recruiting battles against the University of Maryland this year. Of the Nittany Lions' six Maryland commitments, Felder, Givens, Stanley and Thomas also held offers from Maryland.

So far, Maryland has seven in-state commitments. Of the seven, only Forestville defensive end DeOnte Arnett, a four-star recruit on Rivals.com and Scout.com, was offered by Penn State.

Of course this is the work of Larry Johnson Sr., Maryland is his old stomping grounds and he's made quite the pipeline straight to Happy Valley. So how does LJ do it? What makes him such a success at luring kids away from their own backyard to play in another state?

"Kids really relate to him, high school coaches like him a lot and kids look at him like a father figure," said Bob Lichtenfels, a regional manager for Scout.com. "He still has some great in-roads in Maryland, probably some better than the coaching staff at Maryland."

Johnson's positive, straightforward approach, also has resonated with high school coaches.

"He doesn't put down other schools, doesn't discuss other schools; he just talks about what Penn State has to offer and their plans for the kids," Eleanor Roosevelt coach Tom Green said. "He basically talks to them about the positives of Penn State, and that's it."

Imagine that, actually selling the merits of your school and not going down the negative path that so many coaches take (you know other coaches are using Paterno's age against him). It speaks volumes of Penn State that LJ can take this approach and have so much success. If the next coach does come from outside the program and LJ and Tom Bradley are not kept on or decide to leave, you will most likely see a major drop off in recruiting especially in Maryland and Western PA. Although I'm not opposed to an outside hire (especially if it gets rid of Jay), the thought of losing Penn State's two best recruiters is not a pleasant one.

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