Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a recruit, player, alum or coach about all things Penn State.
This week's subject is Curtis Cothran, a three-star defensive end out of Newtown (Pa.) Council Rock North. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior committed in March and needed just several days to affirm his loyalty after the sanctions.
Despite double teams, Cothran has eight sacks through seven games this season. He's been to two PSU games so far this year, but he'll have to watch the OSU-PSU contest from home. A disappointed Cothran said he has a homecoming game that Saturday, so he would be cutting it too close if he left immediately afterward.
NittanyNation: What's been the most surprising part about watching Penn State this season?
Curtis Cothran: I mean, I never thought they were going to fall flat in the first place; everything they're doing is pretty much what I expected. I didn't think their performance would really drop off with Silas Redd or anything -- but the one surprising thing was them being down against Northwestern, especially with Northwestern being ranked, and then coming back and beating them by 11.
I was kind of surprised by their wideout, No. 8, [Allen] Robinson. I didn't think he would be as good as he is. He's been a big surprise. But I expected them to have a pretty good offense this year with Coach [Bill] O'Brien coming from the Patriots.
NN: How often do you speak with Penn State coaches, and have opposing coaches stopped contacting you?
CC: Yes, they've been leaving me alone. I last heard from a coach about a month ago, just from Facebook, and I sometimes got asked if I was 100 percent committed to Penn State. But I said, 'Yeah, I'm 100 percent.' So they just stopped calling.
I don't talk to [Penn State] too often, maybe once a month or so.We just talk about different things like family and how everything's going to work out with school, how I'm going to get an education, and how they're telling me I'm the right person for the job. It's not just about football.
NN: With Penn State doing so well this season, do you feel like more people support your commitment now?
CC: It's probably about the same just because I live in Penn State country. When I first committed, even with everything going on, everyone was like it's a great school, it's a great place to be. I have friends who go there, so I'm still getting the same support. I don't think anybody told me not to go there.
NN: At this time next year, you'll be suited up at Beaver Stadium. How often do you think about playing for Penn State now, and what was the main selling point there?
CC: I actually think about it a good amount. Just knowing when I see my friends looking for schools and not knowing where they're going to be, it's just nice to know I have a home and there's nothing I got to worry about.
I'm looking forward to the atmosphere, having 100,000 fans cheer for you. That was a driving point for me, being able to play there was a big reason. I just felt overhwelmingly higher on Penn State than any other school I got an offer from.
NN: When you're playing this year, what are some different things you'll do compared to last season?
CC: I'll try to listen to the [offensive] linemen and think what they're doing or saying, maybe see if there are any code words. Like the last game, I played defensive tackle and whenever the lineman said 'solo' he would cut me and it would be a pass. I was like, I know what's coming.
Like film studies and stuff, I can see now when teams are going to do different things to me. ... I just started hitting my stride. This past game I've had like four sacks, but I've been mostly getting double-teamed.