You can't say Pennsbury's J.J. Denman made a snap decision.

Before committing to Penn State for football, the massive offensive tackle visited seven other Division I schools, including Notre Dame, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

"I did my homework," the 6-foot-6, 305-pound junior said Thursday. "No school wanted me more than Penn State did."

Denman committed to the Nittany Lions after a trip to State College last weekend. Near the end of his stay, the 17-year-old and his father, John, chatted with coach Joe Paterno and recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary for about 30 minutes.

"Coach Paterno is 84 years old, but he came off like he was a young guy," J.J. Denman said. "Meeting him was an honor, but I did not need to meet him to decide on Penn State. I looked at the big picture."

An Inquirer first-team all-Southeastern Pennsylvania selection last season, Denman is the eighth player to join the Nittany Lions' recruiting class for 2012. He started at center as a sophomore and last season moved to tackle, with some time at guard.

"He's sort of the total package," Pennsbury coach Galen Snyder said. "He's big, strong, tough, and athletic for his size."

Denman said he had scholarship offers from 30 Division I schools.

At Penn State, Denman is projected to a be a right tackle. He said the possibility of cracking the lineup early in his career played a part in his choice.

"I know I'm going to have to compete hard for a spot," he said, "but that chance is there. It's up to me to work hard and make that happen."

Dence tabbed at VFMA. Matt Dence, a product of Father Judge, has been named the head coach at Valley Forge Military Academy.

Dence takes over the Cadets after serving as a wide receivers coach last season at Georgetown. Before that, he coached for three years at Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine, and was at Yale for five years.

Dence, a wideout at Judge in the early 1990s, replaces ex-NFL quarterback Glenn Foley, who stepped down last month after posting an 8-0 record in one season.

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019

or robrien@phillynews.com.