It took nearly two weeks of thoughtful consideration for Damascus standout Zach Bradshaw to decide recently he no longer wanted to attend Penn State next year after the school was hit with unprecedented NCAA sanctions in the fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
But Bradshaw didn’t remain de-committed for long. On Tuesday, the wide receiver-linebacker made an unofficial visit to Charlottesville and orally committed to become a member of Virginia’s 2013 recruiting class.
Bradshaw’s father, Mike, said the decision came down to Coach Mike London’s dynamic personality, his son’s comfort with the entire Cavaliers coaching staff and the positive trajectory of the program since London took over in 2010.
Zach Bradshaw also considered South Carolina and Northwestern, his two other finalists when he originally picked Penn State in June.
“Since we placed such a high value on relationships throughout the whole process, when he made the decision to de-commit, rather than opening his recruiting process, we really just went back to the schools he felt a bond with and one of those was, of course, Virginia,” Mike Bradshaw said. “Even before he chose Penn State, he had Virginia very high on his list.”
Virginia’s coaches will slot Bradshaw at outside linebacker to begin with, and he could potentially move to offense and play H-back later on in his collegiate career. A second team All-Met selection as a wide receiver last year, Bradshaw caught 35 passes for 466 yards and seven touchdowns, and also rushed 25 times for 219 yards and two scores.
Bradshaw, a rising senior who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, is former high school teammates with current Virginia defensive back Brandon Phelps and played youth football with Good Counsel quarterback and fellow Cavaliers commit Brendan Marshall.
Choosing to reunite with them, and eschew Penn State, was simply due to the competitive disadvantage he would suffer under the weight of NCAA sanctions levied against the school’s football program last month. Penn State received a four-year postseason ban and significant scholarship reductions, among other punishments.
Bradshaw is the fourth 2013 Penn State recruit to renege on his oral commitment since the Freeh Report was released last month. Nine other players have transferred from the Nittany Lions football program.
“He thought long and hard about it and it was a difficult decision for him to make because not only he, but the whole family, had a tremendous amount of respect for [Penn State] Coach [Bill] O’Brien,” Mike Bradshaw said. “But the magnitude of the sanctions, and especially the restrictions on scholarships, would make it very difficult for Penn State to be competitive over the next several years, especially for that class of 2013, which really bears the brunt of those sanctions.”