According to some of his Harrisburg-area brethren, it was a chance Zayd Issah wouldn’t want to pass up.
That chance was committing to Penn State, and it’s something Issah — a class of 2013 recruit and a three-star athlete, according to Rivals.com — did Friday.
A native of the state’s capital, Issah said he spoke with current Penn State players who are from the area, including defensive lineman Jordan Hill, who is from Steelton, Pa., and their words helped push him toward his commitment.
“I’ve talked to them, and they said when they committed to Penn State, with the old regime and everything, they loved it too and they bought in 100 percent,” Issah said. “But this new staff up there is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced, and they said now is a good time to sign. They’re saying this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.”
Issah, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, informed coach Bill O’Brien by phone Friday morning of his decision to become a Nittany Lion, and his commitment was the 14th pledge for Penn State’s 2013 class. It was also the third of the week for O’Brien, as four-star offensive lineman Dorian Johnson committed to Penn State last Sunday and three-star linebacker Zach Bradshaw did the same Wednesday.
“I’m just excited about what they got going on up there,” Issah said. “The coaching staff, the defensive coaching staff especially, SEC guys, and guys from all over the place. From what I’ve seen, and everything they’ve shown me and my family, we feel like the program is headed in the right direction. I feel like it’s the best place for me to be.”
Though he is labeled with the vague position of “athlete” on most recruiting websites, Issah said he plans on playing linebacker once he gets to Penn State.
Issah won a state championship with Central Dauphin last season and plays on both sides of the ball in high school. On offense, Issah said he lines up wherever he can make an impact and has played both wide receiver and running back. He also showcases his versatility on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensively, I play like a hybrid position,” Issah said. “It’s like an outside linebacker and I’ll walk up at [defensive] end, and I’ll also back up and play safety.”
Issah had other offers from schools such as Iowa and Arizona State, but he said the Lions’ coaching staff as well as the geographical proximity of Penn State made it his best option.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson was the primary recruiter of Issah, but Issah said he also built relationships with linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, defensive coordinator Ted Roof, and O’Brien over his recruiting process.
“Coach O’Brien has been great, talking to my family, talking to my parents,” Issah said. “He really sold Penn State to them first and really got my whole family thinking about it being my best move. And [Friday] I decided that I was ready to make the commitment.”