With NCAA sanctions preventing Penn State from going to a bowl this season, first-year head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff have spent the last two weeks pounding the recruiting trail.
The hard work paid off Sunday, which capped a key weekend of official on-campus visits for the Nittany Lions, as four prospects verbally committed to PSU.
The haul included FOX Sports NEXT four-star linebacker Zayd Issah, who previously committed to Penn State but then backed out when NCAA sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal hit the program in late July.
Issah, from Central Dauphin High in Harrisburg, Pa., picked Penn State over Oregon. He began to regain his comfort level with the Lions when he had a chance to spend time with O'Brien and the rest of the PSU staff in the last couple of weeks, according to his high school coach.
I think Coach O'Brien's visit to us and (Issah's) visit there kind of reminded him of all the things he was excited about this summer, Glen McNamee told FOX Sports NEXT.
Also committing to Penn State Sunday were:
DaeSean Hamilton, a FOX Sports NEXT three-star receiver prospect from Mountain View High in Stafford, Va.
Jonathan Walton, a FOX Sports NEXT two-star linebacker prospect out of Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala.
Anthony Smith, a prep school (Valley Forge Military Academy) defensive back who will enroll at Penn State in January.
This has been a great day for Penn State because for the first time in a while, people are buzzing about recruiting and there is excitement about what is happening with the program moving beyond the 2012 season, FOX Sports NEXT Northeast recruiting analyst Brian Dohn said.
To me, getting four commitments in a day is great, but the highlights are Issah and Hamilton, Dohn added. That is not to disrespect the other commitments, but Hamilton and Issah are high-profile kids, and their decisions to go to Penn State will send a message to other recruits. Maybe not in the 2013 class, but it certainly gives Penn State some needed recruiting momentum heading into the 2014 class.
The NCAA sanctions limit Penn State to 15 scholarships for the recruiting class that will sign in February. The Lions already have 17 commitments.
But four of them -- FOX Sports NEXT five-star tight end Adam Breneman, three-star running back Richy Anderson, two-star defensive back Jordan Smith and Anthony Smith -- will enroll in January and thus can count against the class that signed in 2012.
O'Brien and his staff have room for two more February signees and one more early enrollee.
In his first season at Penn State, O'Brien led the embattled program to an 8-4 overall mark and a 6-2 record in the Big Ten. Saturday, he was named AT&T ESPN National Coach of the Year.