Tanner Hartman recently received an offer that made him change his mind.
Hartman, a two-star rated offensive lineman, originally gave a verbal commitment to Maryland. But after getting an offer from Penn State and mulling it over in the last few days, Hartman changed his mind and became the 11th commit currently in Bill O’Brien’s 2013 recruiting class.
Frank Rocco, Hartman’s high school coach at Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Va., said Penn State was a place the lineman always wanted to play football.
“[Penn State] was a school that his family kind of always followed, so it was kind of like a childhood dream to play at Penn State,” Rocco said. “And it appeared that it wasn’t going to be a viable option until recently, and that’s why he’s in the position he’s in now.”
Rocco said the 6-foot-4, 247-pound Hartman never made an official visit to Penn State, but attended a summer football camp at the school and also has family in the Lancaster area. These factors contributed to Hartman committing to Penn State Tuesday night and going back on his pledge to become a Terrapin.
“He always would’ve loved a scholarship offer from Penn State, but it just came recently,” Rocco said. “Unfortunately the high school recruiting game is so out of whack today that kids feel like they have to go and make commitments before they really can see all the options.”
Hartman comes from an athletic family. His father, Tom, was an offensive lineman at Virginia Tech and his brother, Toles, played basketball at UNC-Asheville. Rocco described Hartman as a tall and rangy lineman that can play on both sides of the ball, though Penn State is recruiting him as an offensive lineman.
“I really think his best days are ahead of him,” Rocco said. “…He’s got the gene pool to get better, bigger and more athletic.”
At Liberty Christian Academy, Rocco serves as the school’s athletic director, as well as its head football coach. He has his own strong Penn State ties.
Rocco was the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback in the 1979 Liberty Bowl and was a graduate assistant on their national championship team in 1982.
Rocco’s father, Frank Sr., was part of the Penn State staff from 1982-2000. And Rocco’s brothers, Danny and Dave, spent some time on Penn State’s football team in their collegiate careers.
But even with all of these connections to Happy Valley and a football program that has sent many athletes to Division-I schools, Rocco said Hartman is the first of his players to commit to Penn State.
“With all of my connections, you’d think [Hartman] wouldn’t be the first guy we ever sent up there. But he is,” Rocco said.
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