STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Between sanctions and controversy, some people might be concerned with the state of PSU recruiting.
Bill O'Brien is not one of those people.
The first-year head coach passionately ranted for more than two minutes Tuesday about Penn State's recruiting success. "When the sanctions happened," O'Brien said, "I know that everybody said, 'Uh-oh, here we go. What's going to happen to Penn State?' "
O'Brien answered his own question by implying, "Not much." Between 40 and 50 prospects have attended every home game, and the coach told reporters the university still has plenty to offer.
"This place is a very special place," he said during his weekly news conference. "This is a place where you play great football with great kids as teammates. You can get a fantastic degree; you can play in front of 100,000 people. You can play on national TV.
"We've had -- every NFL team's been in here to scout our players already this year. You'll have exposure to that. You're going to play for a coaching staff that has NFL experience, national championship experience."
Because of the sanctions, Penn State can extend no more than 15 new scholarships during each of the next four seasons. O'Brien has already received 11 verbal commitments for the Class of 2013, and he's offered 16 2014 players on the ESPN Watch List.
"Is it going to be hard? Yeah, recruiting's hard," O'Brien said. "But, at the end of the day, I think there's a lot of good stuff going on here."
Injury report: Penn State's health finally seems to be taking a turn for the better. Only three players were listed on the report this week, and defensive end Pete Massaro is listed as "day-to-day."
O'Brien said he expects both Massaro and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, who was not listed on the injury report, to be ready for Saturday. Linebacker Nyeem Wartman and offensive guard Mark Arcidiacono remain out.
Preparing for a "White Out": Students are attempting organize a "white out" Saturday through social media, mainly Twitter, and O'Brien was asked about his response to the effort.
"I don't know about the student white-out, but I do know this for the students," he said. "I am asking the students to [be there]. This is a noon kickoff and this is by far the biggest game for us this year. We're playing a 5-0 Northwestern team. We feel like we're doing some good things; we need all those students in the stands at noon for that kickoff.
"These guys, they feed off of that crowd noise and the student section. ... Whether it's white out, this out, that out, I don't know. I just need them in the stands at noon going nuts for this football team."
Always a threat: If there's one Northwestern player Penn State's watching, O'Brien said it's Kain Colter -- who plays quarterback, tailback and wideout.
Colter was 16-of-20 passing against Boston College and, against Indiana, ran for 161 yards while adding 131 receiving yards.
"That's a guy you have to understand on every single snap where he is," O'Brien said. "He's a guy they're doing a great job with, putting him in a position to make plays. ... Quite honestly, when you gain 700 yards in a game on offense, you're talking about a top-notch team. If not for the Baylor- West Virginia game, everybody would be talking about Northwestern."
Quotables: O'Brien, when addressing his team's ability to play hard: "They play like their hair's on fire every play."
Blocked field goal: O'Brien addressed Sam Ficken's miss from 18 yards Saturday by saying Illinois blocked the kick from the strong side. Because of the angle of the kick, O'Brien usually moves a tackle over.
"So you're talking about something that made me really not very happy," O'Brien said. "So we've worked on it this week already, and we'll continue to work on it."