Penn State class of 2014 commit Troy Reeder remembers committing to the Nittany Lions. It was right after he sat down in Bill O'Brien's office and the two shook hands.
Reeder, a three-star linebacker from Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.), also recalls when O'Brien ate dinner at his house.
"He said he was going to be here," Reeder said. "But you can't really dwell on what you can't control. It's time to move on now."
Reeder is in a group text with fellow recruits, and late Tuesday night his inbox was filling up with messages.
After a drawn-out saga spanning the past week, O'Brien — after two seasons in Happy Valley — reportedly agreed to a deal to become the Houston Texans next head coach, making the jump to the NFL so many knew would one day come.
But to some, Reeder included, that move came earlier than expected.
"I sort of expected it in the future," Reeder said. "I knew he wanted to be an NFL coach, but he also told me he was going to see us through the sanctions...He was going to stick around and help get Penn State out of the hole they were in.
"I was a little shocked, after only two years, to see him go."
Despite the nature of the exit and messages "blowing up" his phone on Wednesday morning from coaches at other schools, Reeder remains committed to the Lions, saying he's "loyal right now to Penn State."
He's not alone with those sentiments, either.
Mark Allen, a three-star running back from Maryland, tweeted New Year's Day reaffirming his verbal commitment to the Lions. Defensive tackle Antoine White and linebacker Jason Cabinda — both 2014 commits from New Jersey — did the same.
"We got this bro, get the glue out. We gotta seal this class together!! @jasoncabinda," White tweeted from his personal account.
Former Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris was actually with Allen and Penn State safety commit Marcus Allen on Tuesday night. They were watching the Chick-Fil-A Bowl when the report of O’Brien leaving ran across the ESPN bottom line.
“I was telling them, 'Everything is going to be OK.' But they were in denial,” Morris said. “They were kind of heartbroken. I could sense the tone. It was hard on them.
“I just told them to let it play out and talk about it with their families. I just told them, Penn State has always been resilient. And they have to do what's best for them.”
Penn State running back commit Johnathan Thomas had this to offer when asked over the phone if O'Brien's departure affected his verbal commitment: "No, not really...A man has to do what he has to do."
But not all recruits have reaffirmed their verbal pledge to Penn State.
As PennLive’s Audrey Snyder reported, a few Penn State commits, including quarterback Michael O’Connor and wide receiver De’Andre Thompkins, could reconsider their options.
That said, several recruits have conversations to be had and decisions to be made in the near future.
Meanwhile, Reeder said O'Brien was in contact with recruits throughout the week, telling them he was staying.
Those talks were had as recently as Monday, but now the 2014 recruiting class and the current roster have to wait to see who will lead them as head coach.
"Just the sense of the unknown. Just not knowing who will replace them. But, it's the nature of the coaching business," Reeder said. "That's why going through the recruiting process, everyone tells you, 'You need to pick the school.' That's what I based my decision on. I just love Penn State so much...Coach O'Brien did a great job of recruiting Penn State guys, and that's why I think we'll stick together."
Speaking of replacing O’Brien, there are multiple names floating around, including Greg Schiano, Al Golden and James Franklin.
Franklin, the head coach at Vanderbilt, is familiar to Reeder, who was recruited by the Commodores. Reeder said, from a conversation he had with Franklin, that the coach would likely offer what Penn State needs in a coach.
“Someone who can relate, especially at a place like Penn State where you need something more than just a coach,” Reeder said. “You need someone who wants to be a part of that tradition, the college, pep rallies and speaking and stuff like that. I could see him doing that.”
In terms of O’Brien, Reeder said the consensus among recruits is that they don’t blame the soon to be made official Texans head coach. Reeder also said he and the fellow commits were expecting the move to Houston after the week of reports suggesting that would be the case.
Now, they wait.
“I think he's a great guy. I think he's going to go to Houston and do a great job there,” Reeder said. “At this point, I'm looking forward to see who my coach will be in the future — the linebacker coach and the head coach — and just start on working on getting a bond going there. I think we're all anxious to see who the replacements will be.”
You, along with thousands of other people, Troy, and more clarity should be brought to the situation when Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner holds a press conference Thursday morning at 11 a.m.
Stay with The Daily Collegian for more news on Penn State’s coaching situation.