Ramsey, N.J., is not a deserted town by any stretch of the imagination. But for the Nittany Lion coaching staff in the recent past, Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey was not a frequent destination.
But there O'Brien was last week.
Penn State's renewed interest in the program began while building the Class of 2013, when it pursued FOX Sports NEXT four-star defensive end Alquadin Muhammad. An offer was extended, but he eventually chose to head south to Miami, instead.
That didn't stop O'Brien from trying again, though. With the Class of 2014, he's establishing a relationship early. On an informational trip of sorts, O'Brien stopped in to see head coach Greg Toal, and learn more about his quarterback, Frank Nutile, and his tight end, Tom Sweeney, who both had productive seasons in the Ironmen's 8-3 campaign.
“Coach O'Brien was here Monday, and I got to say hello to him quick,” Nutile said, uttering the only words allowed by a high school junior to a collegiate head coach.
“They've been sending me mail and stuff, and I camped there last summer, and that's basically the extent that I've been hearing from them.”
Neither prospect knew his official stats from last season, but the 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior signal caller completed at least 10 passes to the budding tight end. At 6- -6, 220 pounds, Sweeney and Nutile have a relationship that spans much of their adolescents, first as opponents, and then as teammates.
“We played against each other in grade school, and only started playing together once we got to high school,” Sweeney said. “We've had that connection throughout high school.”
Nutile points to their chemistry off the field as their reason for it on the gridiron.
“We have a real good connection, and real good timing. We are real good friends,” Nutile said.
“Frank and I have a great connection on the field, and I think it's good we can talk about routes and timing, and just practice together,” Sweeney added. “I think having a good connection off the field really helps.”
They both hope it helps in the recruiting process, as well. Sweeney has interest from Miami, Rutgers, Boston College and Penn State, while Nutile claims interest from the Nittany Lions, Scarlet Knights and Maryland. The Nittany Lions stand out to both of them.
“I love the offense and what they're doing there. I definitely have an interest,” Nutile said.
His teammate agreed.
“Here at Bosco, our team is a family, and I think they have that there,” Sweeney said. “I have interest despite the bans and all that stuff. By the time I would get there, there would only be two years left, and they put a lot of guys in the pros. Plus, Coach O'Brien does good work with the tight ends like Aaron Hernandez and the guys they have at Penn State.”