Lansdowne (Pa.) Penn Wood defensive end Shawn Oakman became Penn State's second commitment this weekend, giving the Nittany Lions' a much-needed boost in their Class of 2011 recruiting effort.
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound prospect chose the Nittany Lions over scholarship offers from Connecticut, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, South Carolina and hometown Temple.
Last season, He recorded over 60 tackles and 17 sacks as both a defensive end and defensive tackle. He has 29 sacks in the last two years, earning second team all-state honors as a junior.
Though still admittedly a raw prospect, Oakman is ranked No. 244 in the Rivals250, and is the No. 20 strongside defensive end prospect in the country. He is also the No. 7 prospect in the state of Pennsylvania.
Oakman sat down with BlueWhiteIllustrated.com and discussed his big decision. The following is a transcript of the interview and another in the long line of our series, Q&A with the Nittany Lions' Newest Commitment.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: First and foremost, why the timing of the decision and why Penn State?
Shawn Oakman: I was going to make my decision early, probably this summer, but I felt that I was ready to do it now. I spoke with coach Johnson, he had a real impact on me, just how he was pushing me during the three days at camp. I felt like it would be a great fit coming from a structured system myself, that would be the best thing for me.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: How was your camp experience?
Shawn Oakman: It was real fun. It was a nice time.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: You spoke about coach Johnson, can you expand on the impact that he had on your decision?
Shawn Oakman: Coach Johnson is a real guy, no matter what you're talking about. You can talk about anything with him and he'll give you an honest opinion at the end. Coach Johnson is a real nice guy to get along with, he's easy to get along with, but so are the other coaches. All the coaches are good coaches, and they believe that their school is the best. On a personal level, I felt like coach Johnson was that guy that is going to push me, even when I don't want to go anymore. He's going to push me to be great, and that's just big.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: What kind of things did they say about how you would fit into the program?
Shawn Oakman: They think that I can be a great defensive end, with me having long arms, I would be much more effective than a lot of d-ends.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: You don't see a lot of football players at your size, how do you use that size to your advantage?
Shawn Oakman: It definitely helps me out. I have long arms, and [offensive] tackles have long arms too, but I probably have longer arms. I can get my hands on them first, before they get to me, that's a problem that a lot of smaller defensive ends have - they can't get their hands on them.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: Did you get a chance to speak with Joe Paterno before you left?
Shawn Oakman: I talked to coach before I left. He's a good guy, too. We just talked for a little bit. We talked about my major, anything my uncle brought up, anything about the school. He's got the funniest stories. He's got stories for days. He was telling me how he played basketball. That was something that surprised me that I didn't know.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: Speaking of which, what is your future in basketball?
Shawn Oakman: They said that I could play both, as long as I could keep my grades up. So I'm going to try to do that.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: What did you decision come down to, and what was one thing that put Penn State over the top?
Shawn Oakman: What put Penn State over the top was coach Johnson and the campus community. The other schools on my list were city campuses and they were spread out. So the campus community all packed in to one, that and coach Johnson really did it.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: With your decision out of the way, what's on tap for you this summer?
Shawn Oakman: A state championship in basketball, trying to win the league in football and getting ready to come back to school.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: Philadelphia players usually have a tough time getting their name out there, what was it like coming out of the city as a football player?
Shawn Oakman: It was really big, because Philly isn't known for its football, they're known for football. It puts a light on Philly football players in general, it's not just about me getting a scholarship to go to Penn State, it's going to give other coaches a reason to come to Philly to find the next whoever. They're going to look at the Florida's, the Alabama's, the Georgia's, these other football schools. It's real good for everybody. We're shining the light on this situation in Philly.
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com: Finally, how's it feel to be a Nittany Lion?
Shawn Oakman: It feels real good. It's a weight off my shoulders. I wasn't real stressed about it, I knew I was going to make it soon, but I've got a clear head for this 12th grade school year. That's big for me.