A Lion for the Future

December 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm 1 comment

Michael Mauti was the emotional heart of the 2012 Penn State football team, a great player whose leadership helped keep the Nittany Lions together through a tumultuous summer and challenging fall. It’s impossible to find a direct parallel with a kid who, officially at least, isn’t yet a member of the team. But Adam Breneman comes pretty close.

Breneman is just wrapping up his senior year at Cedar Cliff High School outside Harrisburg, and he’ll start classes at University Park in January. Arguably the top high school tight end in the nation as a junior, he committed to Penn State last spring, giving then-new coach Bill O’Brien a great prospect and a very public vote of confidence. That he seriously injured his knee last summer and missed his senior season did little to dampen the enthusiasm of Penn State fans who expect him to be a terrific college player and future pro.

But there are a couple of twists in Breneman’s story that make him far more compelling. The first is how he handled his knee injury. Not long after he went down in a summer practice drill, Breneman announced Catch The Cure, a charity he actively promotes and oversees to raise money for research into ALS. The non-profit was inspired by former Cedar Cliff football star┬áTom Kirchhoff, who is currently battling the disease. At last count, Catch The Cure had raised more than $150,000 for ALS research.

Around the time this high school kid was building a website and speaking at booster club events to drum up funds for charity, Breneman found himself carrying another unlikely load: that of unofficial spokesman for the Nittany Lions’ incoming recruiting class. Just as Mauti and other team leaders had to convince some current Penn State players not to leave in the wake of NCAA sanctions, Breneman was the star recruit whose status and vocal re-commitment kept the majority of the 2013 class intact.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a great profile of Breneman, an early enrollee who expects to participate in the Lions’ spring practices next year, with an eye to contributing for the team as a true freshman next fall. No matter what Breneman does on the field next year, Penn Staters should have no trouble rooting for him.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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Entry filed under: Bill O'Brien, Football. Tags: , .

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