Jonathan Warner sees an opportunity. Not just for him, but for all potential Penn State Nittany Lions.
“It’s a new era we have to start,” said Warner, a senior wide receiver from Camas. “This class is the first to sign without JoePa coaching. We’re the new legacy.”
Joe Paterno died Sunday morning, the same day Warner made his intentions known that he will sign with Penn State. Signing day is Feb. 1.
Paterno was fired in November in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky. The legal fight — criminal and civil trials, etc. — could last for years. But it has nothing to do with current and future players.
“We’re not going to worry about the scandal,” Warner said. “We’re just going to start a new era of Penn State football.”
Interestingly for Jonathan Warner, an older Penn State era helped in his recruitment.
Curt Warner, Jonathan’s father, sent highlight videos of his son to Larry Johnson Sr., an assistant with Penn State. Curt, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and a former Nittany Lion, asked Johnson to take a look.
Jonathan, now a 6-1, 200-pounder, is a late bloomer of an athlete who was not getting as many looks as he would have had he grown into his body a year or two sooner. Warner, in his first year as a full-time starting wide receiver for Camas, was named to The Columbian’s All-Region team and helped the Papermakers make it to the Class 3A state semifinals this fall.
After watching the video, Johnson called the Warners, offered Jonathan a scholarship and invited Jonathan to campus for a visit.
“Excitement was the word,” Jonathan said. “I was jumping for joy when I got the call. All the stress went away. A good school, a really good school, and a really good football program.”
Jonathan and Curt were in State College, Pa., this weekend.
“It was an awesome experience,” Jonathan said. “My dad had some flashbacks from the old time. He told me some of the traditions. I had fun with all the other recruits. I just loved it.”
Curt Warner confirmed that Jonathan spoke with new head coach Bill O’Brien on Sunday morning and said Jonathan would be signing with the Nittany Lions.
As a parent, Curt said he has no reservations with his son going to Penn State.
“I’ve been there. I know what the university is all about. It’s a great, great, great university,” Curt Warner said. “When you look at the affiliation between the players, the students, and the scandal, there really is no connection.
“Penn State is a huge institution. They are looking to get this behind them. They’re starting with a new coaching staff. They kept a couple guys, but basically, they’re starting fresh. That’s the only thing you can do.”
If anything, Curt said he might have a tougher time with Jonathan being so far from home.
“Parents don’t like to see their children leave and go anywhere,” Curt Warner said. “It’s a part of growing up. They’ve got to learn things for themselves. This is a great place for him to be, and we’re happy for him. He’s worked hard to get an opportunity.”
Jonathan Warner said he has two goals in mind for his college career.
“To play at that level and to strive to work on my major,” he said, noting he wants to study business.
“If you look at the university as a whole, it’s one of the best schools in the nation,” Jonathan said.