|Hometown/School:||Fort Wayne, In. (Northrop HS)|
Last Tuesday (July 19th), the family of Josh Gaines drove to Penn State, in an effort just to get a look at one of the five schools that have offered the Northrop HS star. Little did anyone know that by the end of the week, Josh would have made his final decision and cancelled all his remaining unofficial and official visits.
"It was about a seven and a half hour drive (from Indiana to State College). [Coach Vanderlinden] came and got us from the hotel--it's like a block from campus. We went around campus, sat in the stadium seats--they're real nice," said Josh. "The stadium's huge. We're going along the road and the stadium pops out of nowhere. Talked to Coach Paterno. We went past his house and all the coaches houses."
Josh had offers from Big Ten opponents Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, and of course Penn State. On top of those, schools like Tennessee, Boston College, Washington, Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Michigan told him that if he camped, they to would present him with an offer.
Throughout the spring, Purdue seemed to be the front runner for Josh's signature. He camped there this summer. He had taken quite a few unofficial visits with his step-father. How did Penn State come in and steal the stud athlete from the Boilermakers back yard?
"The college there, it's a whole different environment. It lives up to the name Happy Valley. Everybody there was cool. All the players there, they all focus on something. They don't just go to school for football, they do other things outside of football. They had four people go to the NFL graduating with degrees. That makes me feel like if everybody else is going to do something good in that environment, I'm going to do something good too," Josh explained, citing Penn State's high graduation rate as a huge positive in Penn State favor. "My mom loved [the graduation rate] too."
Although he was given a tour of the campus and facilities by his recruiting coach and Penn State linebacker coach, Ron Vanderlinden, Josh had a chance to meet some of the other coaches and players, but he seemed to particularly like Tony Johnson and his dad.
"His dad (defensive line coach Larry Johnson) was real cool, real nice. [Coach Johnson] showed me some film of the defensive line, the defensive ends. He showed me film of Kennedy, Haynes, and the rest of those guys," said Josh, who said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of those first round draft picks.
Does his film session with LJ, Sr. mean that Josh is ticketed for the defensive line?
"Well when I went down for the trip, tight end and defensive end. But the other day, [they said] just defensive end," explained Josh, who was told this by Coach Vanderlinden.
Josh has no preference as to what position he plays at Penn State. His versatility is one of the attributes that attracted the coaching staff to him. In an earlier interview with LionNews, Josh said Northrop HS coach Matt Stinson will install a 4-3 defense this year so Josh can play defensive end.
"This is my first year playing there, I played outside linebacker last year," admitted Josh, who at 6'3'', 259 pounds, ran a 4.7 today (August 4th) during his first day of preseason football practice.
After returning from Penn State, Josh weighed his options for a couple days before calling Coach Vanderlinden on Saturday morning to commit.
"He said, 'We'd love to have you'," said Josh, who admitted that he had been following the Nittany Lions recruiting efforts and didn't want to hesitate and lose the scholarship.
"I was thinking not to wait too long because I might be out of luck if I were to stall. That's the school I wanted to go to, so if I stall, they might give my scholarship away."
Josh is an exciting athlete, who admitted he can't wait to follow in the footsteps of Courtney Brown, Jimmy Kennedy, and Michael Haynes.
(Interview by Steve Curry)