Penn State lands key in-state recruit in Exeter offensive lineman Menet
READING — Michal Menet spent Memorial Day poolside with his family before the four-star offensive lineman made two important phone calls.
First was a call to Duke as Menet told coach David Cutcliffe's staff they could cancel their Tuesday trip to his high school. Then, he made a call to Penn State offensive line coach Herb Hand and cut straight to the point.
Memet, an offensive lineman widely considered the top in-state recruit for the class of 2016 wanted to stay home and play for coach James Franklin's Nittany Lions, making him the 11th scholarship offensive lineman to do so since Franklin was introduced in January 2014.
Hand screamed. Franklin "went nuts" and even put one of his young daughters on the phone and she welcomed the high school junior who can play guard or tackle to the Penn State family.
"You made my daddy happy," Menet's father, Brian, recalled of his son's conversation with Franklin's daughter.
Menet, the ninth player to verbally commit to the 2016 class, kept his college decision mum all week, waiting until Friday afternoon to stand up on the Exeter Township High School auditorium stage and tell his friends and teammates he was verbally committing to Penn State. Cheers erupted from the 100-plus gathered in the auditorium, many whom wore blue and white Penn State T-shirts, anticipating Menet would play nearby.
"I think that the line is definitely the focal point of every team, and everything starts up front," said Menet, who visited for a spring practice. The Lions offensive line surrendered 44 sacks last season.
Rebuilding the line was Franklin's top priority when he took the job. "If we keep getting good guys in there, which I know we will, I think we'll definitely be able to do good things," he said.
There were jitters throughout the school day for the lineman as he glanced up at the clock between classes. He said he didn't worry about the decision itself, but more about delivering his speech to his peers.
The 6-foot-5, 271-pound prospect didn't tip his hand before the 3 p.m. ceremony, even going as far as to wear a striped tie with various shades of blue along with a light blue pocket square and matching cufflinks. One Duke and one Penn State sign rested in front of the table where Michal sat with his family, who were relieved to have their son and brother stay in state.
Michal bought the new suit during the weekend, and when the workers sizing him up at a local store found out who he was, they, too, wanted to know if he was headed 110 miles down the road to Beaver Stadium or to Durham, N.C., where he had met with Blue Devils business professors who tried to sell him on a rigorous program of studies.
Penn State couldn't let this one get away.
"Penn State's been a slight favorite for a little bit," Michal said. "I did waiver for a little bit [before deciding], but nothing crazy. I really only narrowed it down and knew I was going to go to Penn State in the last week or so. Since then I've been 100 percent confident."
He understands other teams will continue to call him and plans to reiterate the same thanks-but-no-thanks stance he used throughout the recruiting process. Even when Duke showed up to school Tuesday knowing Michal's mind was already set on Penn State, his father said the Blue Devils understood Michal's no.
Will the other 26 schools he held offers from, including aggressive recruiters like those from Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State be as understanding?
His parents and older brother, Christian, who played football at Eastern Michigan before a neck injury ended his career, said they plan to help him continue drowning out the Twitter direct messages and phone calls from other teams. If they have to take his phone away from him they will, though Christian said his "little big brother" Michal won't waiver with his commitment.
There are plenty of buffers around him to make sure he won't change his mind between now and signing day 2016. Whether it's the 14 acres of land the family lives on, the 180 acres around them or the few hours a week Menet gets to act like a normal high schooler and hold down a job as a salesman at the local store, they're certain their humble brother, son and friend won't change.
"Penn State is the place I want to be, and that's where I will be," Michal said. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."