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Penn State eyeing 2013 LB Chris Britton

10/17/2012

Calvin Everett's shirt stuck to his skin on a humid summer night as he listened to the echo of basketballs inside the Harrisburg (Pa.) High School gym.

The first-year football coach stood beneath the exit signs last season and hoped to find someone, anyone, who might contribute on the gridiron. Only a few minutes ticked off the clock before Everett's pulse quickened and his eyes widened. He found somebody -- power forward Chris Britton, his future middle linebacker and Penn State target.

"I didn't have a pencil or pad, I was just standing in the doorway and watching," Everett said. "And, after a few minutes, he just had so much size and so much energy. It's like he didn't get tired. He was just getting rebound after rebound."

Everett knew Britton, who's now a senior, boasted a unique mix of ability and potential. But he never expected the 6-foot-3, 195-pound athlete to form such a quick understanding of the defense -- or for Penn State assistant Larry Johnson to drive two hours, past bumpy roads and slow traffic, to visit the high school.

Even Britton never daydreamed about that possibility.

"I had no clue I might be able to go to a school like that," he said. "I thought I'd go somewhere like St. Francis or IUP. I'm just thanking God every day because, well, I never thought I'd even play football. It's crazy. It's like my favorite sport now."

Johnson stopped by Harrisburg High late last week, just one week after receiving Britton's film -- all of which came from the first half of this season. Everett explained how the safety-turned-linebacker competed in just three games last season before doctors removed his tonsils and ordered him to substitute ice cream for football.

One problem did emerge, however, as Johnson glanced over the basketball star's transcripts. The defensive line coach grew concerned Britton might not qualify, but both Britton and his coach later explained his GPA was not properly weighted because of added honors classes. Britton says he boasts a 2.4 GPA once everything is accounted for -- and Johnson plans to remain in touch.

"[Johnson] told me straight from his mouth that he's extremely high on their board," Everett said. "He said the linebackers coach loves him, the head coach loves him, and they really like Chris a lot.

"I think once it's all said and done, he'll get an offer."

Britton said his mind never roamed to thoughts of FBS football before this season. During study halls or morning school rides, he'd daydream about girls or basketball -- not FBS schools, not BCS schools. Not really football at all. But that changed in August.

In a scrimmage against Archbishop Wood, the defending state champion, the football newcomer scrambled from sideline-to-sideline and collected big plays like college coaches collect highlight reels. He accumulated about 15 tackles, returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble for another score.

"I don't know what it is, I think instinct," Britton said. "I mean, I had no clue I could do half the things I did in that game. I had that interception and a fumble, and I did a spin move on my way to the touchdown. I didn't even know I could spin."

A day after Johnson walked past the lockers of Harrisburg High School, Britton's mind started to wander toward the BCS. He created his own player in a video game, NCAA 13, and plugged himself in as Penn State's middle linebacker.

Eighteen months ago, he never thought he'd be playing any level of football. Two months ago, he never believed he could play for a major program outside of those video games. He believes now -- and that's all thanks to the football coach who watched a basketball game near the exits.

"It's on my mind a lot now," Britton said. "I mean, I'd just really love to get that offer from Penn State. I really would love it. That's my favorite team after Virginia Tech. If they'd offer me, it would be an honor."