FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill O’Brien has a long history with the New England Patriots, and he’s keeping it going from his new post down in Happy Valley.
O’Brien implemented a lot of the Patriots methods into the system at Penn State when he took the head coaching job there last offseason. Now, he’s directing some of his players to Bill Belichick and the Patriots to continue on with their football careers.
Two of O’Brien’s seniors at Penn State last season, center Matt Stankiewitch (pronounced Stank-E-vitch) and cornerback Stephon Morris, went undrafted in this year’s NFL draft but had offers to sign as undrafted free agents all over the league. Both players chose New England, and they pointed to O’Brien as a big factor in that decision.
“I had other opportunities, but even before the draft I wanted to become a Patriot,” Morris said of agreeing to join New England. “Talking to coach O’Brien, it felt like this was the best place for me to be. Just when I came here, I just felt like it’s a great tradition and I’m very proud of it.”
Stankiewitch echoed Morris’ sentiments, praising O’Brien for his guidance but acknowledging that in the end it was his decision.
“Of course, Coach O’Brien can help because of the way he is,” Staniewitch said. “He is a very positive person and people look up to him. So, of course, that helps when you want to go somewhere. But things just fell into place and it just happened to be that I ended up in New England.”
O’Brien may no longer be with the team, but clearly he’s still having an impact on its roster.