Strong Nittany Lion connections

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill O'Brien left his post as the Patriots offensive coordinator following the 2011 season to take the head coaching job at Penn State, but over a year later, he continues to lend a hand to his former employer.

On Saturday, former Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris, signed by the Patriots to a rookie free agent contract on Friday, said that the decision to join the Patriots was spurred by a suggestion from O'Brien.

"Coach O'Brien pretty much led me here," Morris said. "He told me it'd be a great situation for me. I pretty much wanted to be a Patriot for a long time now, so it's pretty much like a dream come true. Hopefully I get a chance to impress the coaches and make the team so that dream can come true."

Though he's only been a Patriot for a couple of days, Morris (who says he became a fan of the Patriots while Tedy Bruschi was playing for the team) can already see the parallels between his college program and the Patriots.

"You can just pretty much see the way Coach O'Brien runs things is the same way Coach Belichick runs them," he noted. "And you kind of see the New England Patriots definitely rubbed off on him and things like that."

Not only did O'Brien vouch for Morris to sign with the Patriots, he also sent the 22-year old off with advice before joining his new employer.

"Coach O'Brien pretty much told me to keep my nose clean, my head down and stay off social network sites," Morris said with a laugh.

Former Nittany Lion center Matt Stankiewitch was also signed by the Patriots to a rookie free agent deal this week.