A standout high school offensive lineman from Colorado has turned his back on his verbal commitment to attend Penn State, becoming the first recruit the school has lost because of the ongoing sex scandal that has rocked the university to its core, the Coloradoan reported.
Joey O’Connor, a 6-foot-5, 297-pound senior, told the newspaper Thursday that he had de-committed so he could focus on the rest of his high school season with Windsor High.
"It’s been a real struggle, just getting all this thrown in my face just before the playoffs," he said. "The only time I can get away from it is at football practice. I only forget about it when I step on that field."
He said other coaches had already been in touch and that he was now considering a range of schools, including South Carolina, Arizona, Arizona State, the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, California, UCLA and Washington State.
Surprisingly, O’Connor told the Coloradoan he would also still consider recommitting to Penn State.
"I’m not saying that I’ve completely ruled [Penn State] out, but I don’t know what’s going to happen there in the next couple months," he said. "The waiting and not knowing what’s going to happen has been the biggest factor [in the decision]."
O’Connor is one of the country’s best high school offensive tackles and was considered the Nittany Lions top recruit.
The Penn State football program was thrown into chaos Wednesday night when the university’s board of trustees announced coach Joe Paterno had been fired — following child sex abuse charges being laid against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.