Bill O'Brien knew he wanted to focus on Penn State's run-on program months before the sanctions even hit.
He spent winters in New England watching Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker -- two unheralded players out of high school -- and saw them improve and contribute more as the season wore on. Forget recruiting rankings. Forget the pack mentality. O'Brien thought he could find some diamonds in the rough as run-ons, relative unknowns who could help this team win.
When those sanctions did finally hit, leading to fewer scholarships, O'Brien knew the run-on program would be more important than ever. His staff hit the recruiting trail hard and followed every lead it could.
This staff's effort helped uncover prospects such as prep quarterback D.J. Crook, who emailed the staff without any expectation he'd get a response. And, with the help of recruits like Crook, O'Brien is hoping to ensure this program remains one of the country's best.