McGraw flips from IU to Penn State

Indiana’s first verbal commit for 2021, Elkhart’s Rodney McGraw, has flipped to Penn State.

McGraw, a three-star defensive end, announced his decision Sunday via Twitter. He is considered the No. 6 prospect in the state of Indiana for 2021, according to 247Sports.

“I want to thank Coach (Tom) Allen and Indiana University for the opportunity. Recent events have led me to reevaluate my opportunities and take a closer look at some great programs,” McGraw wrote.

When McGraw committed to IU in January, Mark Hagen was IU’s defensive line coach. Hagen is now at Texas and was replaced by Kevin Peoples, formerly of Tulane. The strength and conditioning staff has also changed, with David Ballou and Matt Rhea now at Alabama and Aaron Wellman, formerly of the New York Giants, taking over at IU.

Earlier this week, McGraw gave some indication he was looking elsewhere when he announced he had received an offer from Illinois. He has instead committed to one of IU’s competitors in the Big Ten East, Penn State.

“Thank you to my teammates and coaches for helping me reach this point,” McGraw continued. “The best choice for me is clear! I’m officially committed to Penn State. Thank you to Coach (James) Franklin for the opportunity to play in front of the best fans in college football! Recruitment officially shut down!”

IU is now down to five verbal commits for the 2021 class, including defensive end Cooper Jones from Valparaiso. Jones, considered by 247Sports as the No. 5 recruit in the state, is joined by Bloomington North tight end Aaron Steinfeldt, the state’s No. 17 prospect, and Fort Wayne offensive lineman Vinny Fiacable, No. 19.

The current class also includes Michigan running back David Holloman and Florida defensive back Larry Smith.


  1. with all the coaching changes at Indiana University I can understand and see why an individual would re-open their recruitment. Tommy Stevens did the same thing. Wishing this young man nothing but the best of luck.

    1. I see your point 79,

      Question these kids need to ask themselves is, “How well did that work out for ole Tommy Stevens?” Spent 3 years doing clipboard duty at PSU, and when he saw that it would likely become 4 years, decided to transfer. Wanted to play with the big boys in the SEC and got hurt in the 2nd game of the season against a mid-major southern school before he could even play an SEC game. Never saw much out of him the rest of the year even when he was on the field. However, it is not all bad, Tommy got to be a play toy for Sean Payton to amuse himself with by playing draft games with one of his old Saints staffers.

      Funny thing about all this is we’ll never know how things would worked out if Tommy would have kept his commitment to KW and IUFB. My guess is he would have been a 3 year starter. Never know, might have achieved a Trent Green like career, but the grass sure looked greener over at PSU. Oh well, we’ve got the transfer portal now, maybe if things don’t work out for McGraw in a year or two, he will be able to move on a little easier. . . . and folks wonder why there are so many college athletes with buyers regret. Maybe it is because of situations just like ole Tommy Stevens, got a few too many stars in his eyes when PSU came a calling.

      Problem is, when you are at the PSU’s of the world, there are several more guys in the room who are just as good or better than you are! Maybe you’ll rise to the top against all odds but more than likely someone will be posting about you just like this a few years later.

      1. Stevens and Gunner Kiel walked away from IU due to issues they had with KW. Some were parent driven, others were more about KW’s “personality” and style of coaching. De-commits stink, bit every school keeps recruiting committed kids, sometimes right up to the night before signing day. IU did with several kids last year and also got a kid or two to change, so there’s been good and bad to it for IU. And remember that IU never gets Nate Sudfeld if not for a commitment / de-commitment scenario on the part of several players.

        RM was iffy the minute Hagen left. Losing DB hurt too, but MH was the guy and RM really liked him. MH was and is a big coaching loss, both from a recruiting and development standpoint. It was definitely a setback to lose him.

  2. This one hurts. The kid seems to have a world of potential. Size, speed, length- he has the kind of potential a Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State is going to eventually notice. I’m not surprised he jumped to Penn State but definitely disappointed.

  3. These are ‘The Days of Our (Hoosier Football Etsy Bowl) Lives’……

    Question: How much time will a 2021 commit have to change his mind if the 2020 college football season is cancelled? I’m still not convinced we’re going to have a football season this fall. And then the question arises again…How do seniors get treated if there’s no football this year?

  4. This is a tough loss but one the coaches aren’t worried about. It sounds like another high rated DE IU is in good shape with and may bring him in to Bloomington. I don’t have a lot of Indiana’s top players will stay in-state right now. Too many seem to have stars in their eys instead of the desire to establish themselves as one of the players to move IUFB up in the B1G. As coach Allen has said this year, don’t blink. Coach seems to be able to bring in coaches and players to replace quality people with talent equal or better than the ones that leave.

  5. It’s disappointing that he didn’t want to play for the home state university, especially after having been committed for four months. The relationship he had developed with Hagen during his recruitment must have made him feel comfortable, and now that he is gone McGraw didn’t feel the same loyalty to the staff and program.

    In-state players Kyran Montgomery and Austin Booker are still available though the indication they are leaning towards Purdue.

    Reviewing Rivals offer list the top two rated WDE’s IU has offered have verballed to Tennessee and Georgia, but as we all know that is no assurity that they will remain committed. Of the remaining nine WDE’s that IU has offered only two are not projecting to be leaning towards a particular program, Henry Hughes, and Alex Okelo.

  6. We have flipped our own share the other way so, oh well. It comes with the territory on the early commits. Schools don’t stop recruiting them. At 3 stars he will have his work cut out to see the field anytime before his junior year except for maybe special teams. Best of luck!

  7. As the old saying goes, your recruitment doesn’t really start until you verbally commit.

  8. So much for capitalizing off of the 8 win season! Currently ranked 53rd on 247sports and #13 in B1G. I know, we had a lot of coaching changes, but that still can’t justify the poor class at this point. I’m still smarting from that blown bowl game which would have given us a 9 win season, but it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in recruiting anyway.

    Meanwhile, our Gator Bowl opponent, Tennessee, which has also had some coaching changes, and which finished 8-5 with their 1 point win, is #2 in the country with 17 recruits. BTW, they don’t have a strength coach as he left to take over the vacant NY Giants position!

    1. R67,
      You’ve been around t too much, looks like you’ve caught westlayfayetitis!

  9. Coaching changes hurt, but a lot of schools experience coaching changes. It’s really very simple; IU is not a blue-blood FB program and is not likely to become one in the next four years. PSU puts 95,000 people in a FB stadium for every home game. IU puts 42,000. PSU has won National Championships in the past and is almost always in the mix for the Big Ten Championship. IU hasn’t even sniffed that level of success in decades. If you were a promising young FB player, where would you prefer to play?

    Kids get an offer from IU and they verbally commit. For many, IU’s offer is just a place holder, a safety net. Then they try to get something better.

    1. Po,
      The only thing I hate to see is these kids get sold the moon and the stars by programs like PSU and wind up sitting on the bench most of the college career, if they get on the field at all. Go to a program trying to build like IUFB, and you might have a chance to be on the field much sooner. The difference is you are on the field gaining experience which might give you a shot at the next level. Being a marginal player on a PSU may not. Kind of like do you want to be a little fish in a big pond or a big fish in a little pond.

      1. I always question the reasoning that it is better to be a starter at a non elite program like Indiana, than it is to be a marginal player at an elite program like PSU.

        If the McGraw’s objective is to get to the NFL, then him not cutting it at PSU when he has to go against supposedly better talent in practice how will his chances improve if he was at IU? Does his talent get magically better or is it a case of he was the best option IU had because the competition/talent he was competing against was lesser? I don’t know that is why I am asking.

        I grew up playing hockey. My father was a coach of a Junior A team. I tried out several times trying to make his team, but each time I was cut because I simply wasn’t as good as the 20 he selected. I played several seasons at the junior B level and was considered one of the better players. Were my skills any better than what I displayed during tryouts with my father’s team, or were my skills the same and everyone I was playing against in Junior B lesser than mine? In the grand scheme of things I was a marginal talent when compared to those who had a shot at playing college hockey or possibly the NHL.

        1. First, per espn this recruit is listed at 4 star @ 80. I always use espn for consistency for myself. It leans that if IU recruit decomitts to another school it’s not that big a deal or he wasn’t that good anyway. However, it leans that IU 3 star IU recruits and those that transfer into IU are game changers. Even Rifleman Richard Lagow was a game changer (boy, could he throw the football). To often the Rifleman after a beautiful drive would throw the football to the other team.

  10. SOSD, the difference is that players develop best by playing in games. And the exposure they get from playing in games against teams like OSU, MI, and PSU is the best way to get to the NFL. Playing in games for IU, as compared to riding the pine for a major FB power increases a kid’s chance of getting drafted by an NFL team. If you analyze the NFL Draft every year, you’ll see lots of examples of players who got drafted because they chose a smaller school or transferred to a place where they could play in games. If you’re not demonstrating you talent in real games, you simply won’t get drafted, so a bench-warmer at Alabama could be, in relative terms, a superstar at IU.

    I would not be surprised if this kid transfers after his second season at PSU if he’s not getting lots of playing time.

    1. PO, so your argument is that McGraw’s ability is good enough to start at IU but not PSU. Are you saying that the PSU staff are worse at identifying talent than Allen and his staff, or are you implying that McGraw will be a bust at PSU, but will flourish at IU? Remind me how many more players IU puts into the league than PSU.

      Sounds like you’re hoping McGraw will be a bust, and if that does in fact happen who benefits more, IU or PSU?

      1. Past history is not indicative of future performance SOSD,

        but we do have the Tommy Stevens saga in recent memory and are concerned it could happen again. We know PSU like most top programs are very adept at talent evaluation. Problem is, their goals may not be McGraw’s. PSU is looking to build top quality depth just like every other program. However, top quality depth at PSU may mean McGraw will find himself a 3rd or 4th stringer at PSU instead of a 1st or 2nd stringer at IUFB.

        Doesn’t mean he is not good, it just means instead of there only being 2 guys who could be 1st or 2nd at IUFB, there are 4 guys at PSU and the differences are small. Small difference between 1st or 4th string are immaterial if you are the guy who winds up never seeing the field.

        1. The argument that this kid should aim lower makes no sense. He found a place that he thinks is the right fit for him. Kudos to PSU for making a compelling case to him. No one complains or trashes kids when IU does this to other schools, and no one complains or feels offended when other schools drop a kid and IU gets him. IU lost a really good coach who was a big reason RM committed, so he chose to explore his options. It’s that simple, and the argument that he should lower his expectations to make us happy is nonsense.

          1. BD,
            I don’t think McGraw should lower his expectations either. However, with Tommy Stevens being so fresh in mind, and it again being PSU involved, there is the question of this kid realizing it will be much tougher to get on the field. If he is able to do so, great, but if he cannot and wastes 2 or 3 years of his eligibility it will start looking like Tommy Stevens all over again. In this case, the question is not about the quality of competition for the position at one school over another, but the quantity. Remember all the 5* in the QB room at Clemson thinking they would be the one, all the while wasting eligibility when they could have been on the field elsewhere.

          2. Many players want to compete against a high level of competition and play in a big time atmosphere. IU basketball used to have the kind of shine that would attract kids who were never going to get time, but they wanted to be a part of something special. RM probably can help PSU and the atmosphere and commitment is terrific, so he wants to take that shot. That Stevens ran into stiff and amazingly durable competition at PSU doesn’t mean it was the wrong choice for him, though, and not playing much wouldn’t mean RM would’ve lit it up here. Many factors have to work out for kids to get those chances and excel.

  11. think, kids being sold the moon by FB coaches has been happening for decades, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. Young men who are successful athletes have big egos and big dreams, and it’s hard to get them to see that they’re pursuing an unrealistic fantasy. That’s why a FB program’s history, reputation and fan base is so important in perpetuating the program’s success. But at least kids today can transfer if they realize they were sold a bill of goods or are simply stuck behind better teammates. As you know, in the old days before scholarship limits were imposed, coaches routinely signed players to prevent them from playing for rivals, whether they ever intended to play the kids or not. Teams often had 120 scholarship players on the team! And the less talented players were stuck serving as tackling dummies for years. If they got hurt, didn’t do well enough in school, or if they had any discipline problems, they were cast out, lost their scholarship and were all but black-balled from other FB programs. This practice has been well documented by Sports Illustrated over the years. Today, kids benefit from a much kinder and gentler world of College Football.

    In order to reduce the poaching of our highest ranked recruits, IU must produce winning seasons, win bowl games and fill Memorial Stadium for EVERY home game. And even then we’re going to lose a few top recruits to other schools. It happens to every FBS FB program in the country, but it happens to programs like IU more often.

  12. Pretty much all the thoughts in general are pretty much nonsense. Everything is an individual decision for each individual. Success is dictated on how that individual perfects his or her craft in his or her situation. Just because sports illustrated or anything or anyone else says so doesn’t mean it’s true especially on an individual basis. Success can work not only a one way road or two way road but on a road of infinite directions. And yes there are many who think it’s more prestigious and are happier holding a clip board, practicing and playing very little, and just being a part of a winning elite program than being somewhat of a star player in a loser program. Rudy at ND.

  13. Whatever happened to just keeping your word? Seems like such a meaningless value anymore….Just keep your word and stay ‘committed’ to what you say. It’s part the game (aim high …accept low…go back to high if they come knocking later)…I get it.
    But do this in the employment world and you will soon burn bridges….whether you are the employee or the employer.

      1. Agree about loyalty aspect.

        Maybe, maybe not regarding burning bridges. Depends how insulated inherently elite or how elite you are or become in business world/elite society… and not necessarily honest talent wise with high degree of integrity… to downright criminal until after usually lengthy investigations as in years after many lives of others are harmed.

    1. How naive. The ‘grass is greener’ job hoppers have been having a field day advancing themselves for 25 years. Indisputable.

  14. I think it’s pretty naive to consider any process in recruiting 16-17 year old’s comparable to the “job world.”
    The process to get them into a uniform is often wrought in disingenuous promising and selling as well. Some of recruitment uses the influences of family culture (e.g. LEO) and shared ideologies. Much of that malarkey can be just as disingenuous as the recruit’s sincerity in his desires.

    I’m not saying this young man is any different than the seedy/manipulative characters often on the other side of the process.

    A ‘word’…? A handshake…? A verbal promise….? What does any of it mean anymore? Why even care about recruitment or give any of these kids much headline space? And then add to the constant flux some of the early departures (NFL & NBA “testing the waters”) along with transferring and ‘portals’ with added frequency/ease/regularity? Players and coaches go through revolving doors more than clients at a brothel.

    Off seasons? I think it’s called off season because you have to be ‘off’ to even take any of it seriously. I’m with ‘t.’ Just show me what you’ve got on the field …or court because the rest of the gloat and rocking the boat doesn’t mean diddlysquat.

    1. You were the 1 making the comparison. Don’t you remember mentioning the employment world and burning bridges?

      1. Back to the topic of a whimsical treatment of a handshake and the belief that every successive decision is a better decision….
        Whatever happened to Gunner Kiel? Is he still playing football somewhere? Would love to go back to comments on Scoop where he was going to rock and change everyone’s world.

        And …wow…do I remember the backlash when he changed his mind. I suppose quarterbacks are sexier and break more hearts when they change their mind. Defensive linemen are more ‘dime per dozen(ish)’ …I suppose.

        Remember how Illinois treated Eric Gordon when he broke his commitment? What type of person would do such a thing to come and play for a scoundrel like Kelvin “Sanctions?” I’ll tell what type…The type who breaks his word. Eric Gordon has had more NBA success than any of our other most recent ‘saviors’ wearing candy stripes who put professional dollars ahead of staying at IU to do all possible to get us back to the pinnacle. But we’re not naming any locker room lounges after EJ now, are we?

  15. You’re correct, HC. And whose to blame the job-hoppers? These last two generations understood that employers did not have any loyalty to their employees and that hopping from job to job was a faster way to increase compensation. The global economy creates a much more dynamic job market and many employers consider their employees expendable.

    I once interviewed with the CEO of a company whose first question was, “I see you’ve been with your current employer for 18 years. What’s wrong with you?” He was serious! I realized at that moment that I had walked through the looking glass. I had been promoted seven time in my first 18 years out of college, but this guy questioned if I was afraid of change. Later I discovered that he’d been employed by 12 different companies in 15 years. I guess he was one of those guys who deployed the strategy of “fake it til you make it.”

    1. I blame the MBA model of management for all 3. Arrogance managing personnel, analyzing P & L statements instead of focusing on what makes revenue come through the door and global emphasis being supreme to any enhancements to residual business in your own backyard. I know they’re big hits at the cocktail parties. All at the cost of blue collar and white collar assets. I do think we are starting to rethink those overreaching actions. I always come back to this Q; name 1 positive GM got from Saturn? Talk about a $ dump, but an bigger waste of personnel.

      1. H4H & t,

        You might want to pay attention to what HC just said here, “All at the cost of blue collar and white collar assets.” He is basically identifying for you the philosophy which is the basis for most of complaints you both have expressed many times. By all appearances, it could be assumed all three of you would be in agreement and on the same side! That is, if you could get past the technical language barriers of the differing perspectives you each bring to table.

        . . . who would have thought it, these three on the same side of the issue. Never saw that one coming, may have to think about the thinkaboutit moniker.

        1. You put forth a nice round table persona there, thinkaboutit. Very diplomatic of you. I’m old enough to know even those who express their desires for other perspectives are usually just as inflexible as the next stubborn mule. There are also power dynamics when playing the diplomat. It’s the business world brought to the blog…Yippee.
          There should be a degree in ‘Blogging Dynamics.’ I think I have a doctorate.. I’ve been taught by some of the best back in the days of the Blogging Wild West….Much of that training began on the ‘Basketblog’ of the IDS…when no threats of moderation were present and everyday your skills were in a gladiator ring of shapeshifters. I was trained by master named ‘Remora’….Other skills were tested by king who commanded an artful mastery of language. I referred to as ‘Verbal Art in Motion.’ Anyway, I digress. Long story short. This ain’t my first rodeo. I fully understand how a moderated forum constrains reality. A lot of playing nice…and playing smart….and selling it. Come visit me in the ‘Wild West’ someday. Keep a friend and stay diplomatic in such settings and then come and see me. Until then, it’s two aspirins a day enjoy Pollyannaville.

          I’m actually in agreement on many issues with Clarion. I agree with many of his assessments on basketball roster personnel. Can we talk ‘holdovers?’
          Clarion was also a pretty big fan of Wilson …I was too (at least from the perspective of how Wilson was bringing some excitement to a Hoosier offense and thinking outside of the box in doing so). Certainly not a fan of anyone who berates young men. That being said, I actually fear those forever peeking out from behind a holier-than-thou veil of perfection (enter places like PSU ). Was Joe Paterno not sold as the fatherly figure/ JoePa-Pope / Wonder Bread’ of college football for many, many years?
          No, Joe never berated anyone. He simply let the showers run while leaving a beast drag children into his locker rooms. Clean living to its finest.
          Wish I could think more highly of someone going to play for PSU. But I can’t…Like I said, there is no amount of time. They can take down the old statues and give it all fresh coat of paint. I consider nothing about that place as prestigious. I just wish we could beat their ass silly on the football field. I think this might be the year we achieve that first hurdle. Penix all the way, BABY!

          1. You speak as if you know what happened at PSU yet it’s clear you do not have any idea.

          2. HH, your previous post showed total ignorance. Do research if you want to be educated. As is, you’re not.

          3. The smart thing is to show restraint here. I think this guy has been planted in an attempt to make me take the bait…And if I take his bait, then there goes all of my blogging privileges. Then I can no longer post all of my doctored images and the rest of the artistic freedoms that come with being a “jester.”
            I know an ‘insider’ when I see one. There is a certain aura and bravado (dare I say “smug” attitude that really comes with no retort…other than calling others less informed) …
            It’s a dead giveaway that their privileges are different here.

            Best to show restraint….unless you want to give me the green light, Jeremy. Give me the green light and I’ll tell him/her everything he/she needs to know. Oh, those painful spears of “ignorance.” Should I get on my knees?

  16. Here we go again…1000 more anecdotal accounts of how I conquered life and the business world. My goodness. Can you provide references ….? Can be do some background checks of your resume?

    Repeat: Whatever happened to just keeping your word? And if we want to talk about hopping, are you in favor of how guys now ‘hop’ in the NBA with zero loyalty to cities or fans simply so they can buy or amass their talents with other NBA friends to acquire a championship?
    I think a lot of young people tuned into ‘The Last Dance’ are learning just how loyal MJ was to the city of Chicago….(Walter Peyton as well with the Bears). Both of those exceptional young men endured a lot of doubt, stagnancy and personal beatings until the needed management/coaching/stubborn determination brought the rewards which were never guaranteed as part of their loyalty. Now NBA talent simply hops…hops…hops …and hopes until they find the owner with the thickest pocket books to buy their way to titles (and it’s still really no guarantee).

    I don’t know this young man. Probably a fine lad…But from my vantage point, some of the ugliest deeds ever ‘committed’ happened at a place called Happy Valley. Some of the hell that university put upon young children should never be allowed to be called ‘happy.’ I really don’t know how you wash the stench away from that place. PSU and MSU should have both been made to ‘hop’ to a different conference. They hid despicable activities in the protection of greed and a sport. If that’s the cost of dominating a certain sport, then they can have the bunny rabbits.

    They had no integrity then…and I doubt if it’s hopped into their ‘valley of hell’ now. Their word would mean nothing to me. There aren’t enough decades in my book to allow them to have that back.

  17. H4H, we have a poorer society due to the fading “loyalty, staying true to your word” we see in today’s world. My comment has nothing to do with McGraw switching to PSU as I want players committed to IU to come to IU. We would be far better off if we could trust people when they give their word and we wouldn’t need so many lawyers as a result.

  18. NBA, NFL, and MLB teams are a figment of a city’s/regional area imagination. Team players change/switch teams so much in a few seasons that there is no such thing as a city’s team. Of course players will give many millions of reasons as to why they always loved the team and city to which they just signed that contract as if they have always lived there.

  19. HC wrote, “I blame the MBA model of management for all 3.” I could not agree more! From my perspective, you hit the bullseye with that comment.

    In my experience, the most effective business leaders were those who understood and demonstrated that it was their employees who drove both the top and bottom lines. They were very smart, but humble people and they were “service leaders.”

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