The NCAA harsh sanctions against Penn State continue to impact the program. Wednesday, Nittany Lions’ No. 2 recruit, Dorian Johnson, withdrew his commitment to attend the college in Happy Valley, while receiver Zach Bradshaw elected to go to Virginia..
These two losses hurt the incoming class of a program trying to overcome the stench of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that has left the school, football program and community in shambles.
Johnson, from Belle Vernon, Pa., was No. 27 in the ESPN 150 and a Penn State commitment since June. Johnson, the No. 2 offensive tackle nationally and No. 2 overall player in Pennsylvania, said he would not rush to a decision on where he would enroll.
In June, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound tackle committed to Penn State over Ohio State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
Johnson was the second highest-rated commitment in the Lions’ class behind quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
Bradshaw, from Damascus, Md., told Penn State coach Bill O’Brien by phone over breakfast Tuesday morning the he planned to go to Virginia. He rode with his mother to Charlottesville, where met with the coaching staff and told them he wanted to become the Cavaliers’ 17th commitment.
“The decision didn’t have anything to do with schools trying to poach him,” Mike Bradshaw, the player’s son, said. “It didn’t have anything to do with other kids de-committing. It had more to do with, ‘What will the next four years or five years feel like at Penn State because of the sanctions?’
“The deciding factor was the magnitude of the sanctions,” With the loss of scholarships, PSU will be competing in the Big Ten against some of the best teams in the country with 65 scholarship players. The class Zach would be a part of would really bear the brunt of the sanctions.”
Bradshaw and Johnson became the fourth and fifth Penn State recruits to de-commit since the release of the Freeh report.
The snowballing list of de-commitments includes defensive tackle Greg Webb (Erial, N.J./Timber Creek), cornerback Ross Douglas (Avon, Ohio/Avon) and receiver Will Fuller (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic), who verbally committed to Notre Dame on Sunday. Webb recently committed to North Carolina, and Douglas switched his pledge to Michigan.
Bradshaw’s father said his son was also seriously debating whether to accept offers from Northwestern and South Carolina — but ultimately decided to choose where he felt most comfortable. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver already knows two players on Virginia through Damascus High School, so building relationships there was never an issue.
“What tipped it toward UVA was really a couple things,” his father said. “First, it’s a great academic school. Second, it’s closer to home and third — and most importantly — he felt a great amount of comfort and rapport with the coaches.”