Penn State's historic start to the 2015 recruiting class continued Tuesday night with the commitment by Sterling Jenkins. The Rivals100 offensive tackle from Baldwin (Pa.) is currently the highest rated Penn State commit.
"It was a really close call," said the 6-foot-9, 308-pound Jenkins. "In the weeks before this I was always thinking about whether it would be Penn State or Ohio State. I didn't know which one would be better for me.
"From my perspective, Penn State and Ohio State are going to the same place," he said. "A lot of the things they do are similar, but there are some other details at Penn State that Ohio State didn't have."
Jenkins' relationship with the coaching staff and one coach in particular really helped tip the scales in favor of the Nittany Lions.
"I really admire [offensive line] coach [Herb] Hand, everything he has told me and seeing how he coaches," Jenkins said. "It feels like the right place for me to grow. I had already met Coach Hand when he was at Vanderbilt. We got along even then, and I knew when he came to Penn State it wouldn't be a sales pitch. He is the same guy he was there, a guy I can trust.
"I'm not the first person in my family to go there so that's a pretty cool thing," he said. "It was really surprising to see how the visits there are different. Coach [James] Franklin and all the coaching staff were all there to introduce themselves to me and talk to me. They all took time to come and see me while I was there. The finer details of what they do up there really showed me how much they care about me."
It has already been widely publicized how close this Penn State recruiting class is and how hard they recruit players to join them, but Jenkins said that wasn't a huge influence on him.
"A lot of advice that I've been hearing is to not pay attention to the commits because no matter where you go the football players will be your best friends," said Jenkins. "They were really trying to get me to jump on board. It was cool to be around them on the visits but that wasn't a main reason for my commitment."
In the end, the chance to rise to the top with Penn State was too much for Jenkins to pass up.
"I know that people feel like Ohio State is where it's at in the long run," he said. "Coach [Urban] Meyer is one of the best coaches in the country and I really do appreciate him, but I think it's more valuable to be a part of something on the rise as opposed to something that is already there. I think that Penn State, with all the commitments they have, I don't have a doubt that they are going to the right direction. I know these other commits have bought into that too which makes it even more of a realistic goal."
An Alabama offer late in the process wasn't even enough to make Jenkins lose focus on his top two.
"Throughout this whole recruiting process I knew I didn't want to go somewhere I wouldn't play," he said. "When Alabama offered I already have my top two, but I was still surprised. They've won championships and are the top program in the country. There wasn't a great chance of me going there but it still got me thinking that I could go south and could play there; but I had to keep in mind what was so important to me and what would help me propel myself forward."
Jenkins is scheduled to participate in the Rivals100 Five-star Challenge presented by Under Armour for the second year in a row.