One of the toughest sells when the new staff took over at Penn State was getting prior commitment Malik Golden back on board. In January, the senior athlete made the call to stand by his pledge.
Golden will start his career at wide receiver.
Golden, rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports, was a first team all New England Prep selection as a senior after running for 745 yards and scoring five touchdowns.
As a junior, he had 48 receptions for 680 yards and five touchdowns, as he led Cheshire to a New England Prep School Athletic Council title.
Penn State offered him after seeing him at camp last summer, and at the time he committed he was pegged to start his career at cornerback. That changed when the new coaching staff took over.
"When I saw him, I'm kind of jealous, kind of selfish. I saw the athletic ability with him going both ways and making plays," said wide receivers coach Stan Hixon. "I guess the DB coach wasn't here yet, so I kind of hopped on him before the DB coach came here.
"From talking to him, I think he wanted to try receiver. We're not going to turn away any good players. The main thing is getting him in the fold, get him into the family, and the best players are going to play. He's one of the better athletes that I've seen, also."
Golden will join a crowded stable of receivers already on campus.
"I'm really looking forward to working with the receivers that are already here. Obviously in the past it has not been a big passing team," said Hixon. "With Coach O'Brien and the offense that we're bringing in, we're probably going to throw it a little bit more.
"At the same time, we're going to run it, too. He referred to it as a 'gameplan offense,' so whatever the gameplan says we should do, that's what we're going to do. I think we're going to win with the team that we have on the field right now, and there may be some freshmen here and there that give us a little boost."
Why Penn State?
"The legacy that Coach Paterno built, after talking to Coach O'Brien it reassured me that Penn State was going in the right direction. What drew me there in the first place was the big-time football with a good education. I went there this summer and talked to the players, everything just seemed right."
Why did you come back to Penn State after the scandal?
"My coach has a good relationship with Coach O'Brien and Coach Strollo, and he told me that they always do the right thing and I should just give it another shot. I went there for another visit and all the commits connected and we all just decided to stay."
If you didn't go to Penn State, where do you think you would have ended up?
"That's a tough question. I'm not sure. I got offers from Duke and interest from Wisconsin and Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech so I probably would have opened things up to some of those schools."
What do you think of the new coaching staff?
"I think the coaching staff has come along good. I've talked to all the coaches and even Coach O'Brien. I heard they got a new strength coach, so I'm looking forward to working with him over the summer."
What are you looking forward to about getting to Penn State?
"I would say the college experience, playing Big Ten football and growing as a person and starting a new chapter of my life."