Penn State's Bill O'Brien 'Could Care Less' About Recruiting Rankings

As the Nittany Lions' new coach welcomes his first recruiting class to Happy Valley, he's not listening to the critics.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has a message for all the recruiting star-gazers out there who don't seem to have much confidence in his 2012 class that signed last week.

"I could care less about player rankings," O'Brien said on conference call from the Patriots team hotel in Indianapolis on Wednesday evening, where he was preparing to serve as New England's offensive coordinator in the Super Bowl. "What I care about is that we found the right fit for Penn State with all these prospects."'

Scout.com has Penn State's class ranked No. 49 nationally and No. 6 in the Big Ten, while Rivals.com ranks the group No. 50 nationally and No. 7 in the conference.

Rivals only ranks two prospects in the class, wide receiver Eugene Lewis and defensive tackle Jamil Pollard, as four-star-or-better recruits. Over at Scout, it's even worse, with only Lewis attaining a four-star rating and everyone else falling in line as a three-star or lower.

You can color a man fresh off calling the shots for an offense in the Super Bowl unimpressed with what the scouts think, though.

"I'm not sure who does the rankings," O'Brien said. "All I know is that I'm a part of a football team right now, the New England Patriots, that I think if you went up and down our roster you'd find guys that were highly ranked coming out of high school and you'd find plenty of guys that were not ranked at all coming out of high school, so I don't pay to much to the rankings."

New England's starting running back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, was unranked by both major services (Scout, Rivals) coming out of high school but ran for at least 1,000 yards in the 2006 and 2007 seasons for Mississippi before going pro. Green-Ellis' teammate in the backfield, Danny Woodhead, got just two stars from Rivals before he chose Chadron State in 2004.

Overall, starting right tackle Nate Solder, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, wide receiver Matthew Slater, backup center Ryan Wendall, backup right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, wide receiver Julian Edelman, right guard Donald Thomas and offensive lineman Nick McDonald are all among those on O'Brien's New Enlgand offense who were ranked three stars or lower coming out of high school, according to Rivals' Steve Megargee.

With all those guys in mind, it seems O'Brien is comfortable to wait things about before jumping to conclusions about his first group of players in Happy Valley.

"My big thing is you never judge a recruiting class until, I would say, two years into it," O'Brien said. "At that time we'll be able to say 'Hey, you know, here's a really productive class of good football players and guys that are doing the right thing off the field' which we really believe that's what we have right now."

Several assistants indicated on Wednesday that the staff is off to a good start in recruiting the Class of 2013. It remains to be seen how many of the players Penn State is checking out own those sexy star rankings, as far the Nittany Lions' leader is concerned, the only opinions that really matter are the ones around the Lasch Football Building.

"All I care about is our staff, and our players, what they feel about the guys that are coming in here to help us win games, and that, to me, is the most important thing."

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