||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
Does his film session with LJ, Sr. mean that Josh is ticketed for the defensive
"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)