York High graduate Andre Powell spent 4½ years playing linebacker at Penn State.

His position coach for that entire period was Jerry Sandusky - the longtime PSU defensive assistant now accused of sexually abusing young boys both during and after his days as Joe Paterno's right-hand man.

It's an accusation that caught Powell, 42, completely by surprise.

"I was floored," said Powell, who lives just outside Milwaukee and operates his own sports marketing business. "What really devastated me is when I read the grand jury report. The graphic nature of the allegations - they horrified and sickened me that this could allegedly take place at such a renowned place where I became educated and became a man over 4½ years."

Powell, when asked if he ever witnessed Sandusky make any improper advances, said: "Absolutely not. I saw no evidence of that. If you talk to any former players, it will sound like we're just giving talking points. But I saw no evidence of it whatsoever."

'A legend': Powell, who played at Penn State from 1987 through 1991, described his relationship with Sandusky as a fairly normal coach-player relationship.

"He was brilliant at his craft," Powell said. "He was very detail-oriented. He had a sense of humor. He knew when to drive a player and when to back off. The man was a legend. Right behind Joe Paterno, he was the guy."

Powell was also asked whether Paterno should keep his job at Penn State.

"That's the million-dollar question," he said. "I don't know if he should be the one to take the fall. I don't know who knew what and when they knew it. I'll be waiting just like everyone else. But what gets lost is the victims. My heart goes out to them, and those who may not have come forward yet. That's what saddens me."

Powell also believes the accusations could deliver a serious blow to the future of the Nittany Lions' football program.

"This could almost be like a death penalty," Powell said.

"I don't want to overreact, but it could have a very detrimental impact on recruiting and lead to turnover in staff. In the short term, our beloved program has taken an unbelievable hit."

Recruiting impact? Powell is not the only one who believes the scandal could negatively impact the Penn State program, especially in recruiting.

"It's bad. I think they'll lose some recruits," said Bob Lichtenfels, the national recruiting coordinator for Scout.com. "I don't see how you can't. But this is a first - who ever heard of anything like this. It's going to be interesting to see what happens."

Penn State currently has 16 verbal commitments in its recruiting class of 2012. As of Monday night, Lichtenfels hadn't heard of any of those recruits backing out on their commitments to the Nittany Lions. He said most of the recruits are taking a wait-and-see approach.

One of the nation's most highly recruited players is Noah Spence of Bishop McDevitt High School in nearby Harrisburg. The standout defensive end had been saying that Penn State was among the finalists for his services. But he tweeted on Monday that "um psu might be a no no for me ewwww."

However, his father told the (Harrisburg) Patriot-News that his son was still considering Penn State.

But no matter what Spence and the other recruits ultimately decide, Lichtenfels doesn't believe Paterno will survive the scandal to coach them next season.

"I don't see how he can," he said. "It's a shame that something like this will tarnish what he's done for the school, the town and the state. But those kids will have mental issues for the rest of their lives. It's hard to even read about it as a dad."

- Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or at 854-1575, ext. 455.