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Monday, January 21, 2013
Changing the game: Adam Breneman

By Josh Moyer

As part of a RecruitingNation-wide series, each team site will take a look at one key recruit who helped make a huge impact.

Whenever Adam Breneman glances at his cell phone, he's reminded why he plays.

A photo of Radio City Music Hall, where the NFL draft is held, has been saved as his background to remind him what's next. And on his iPhone's notes application, there's a growing list of about 20 goals he hopes to achieve.

He saves them there under the little notepad icon at the urging of former PSU great Kyle Brady, who did the same thing himself. Breneman doesn't shy away: Win the conference. Win a Mackey Award. Become an All-American. Play in the NFL.

Those are lofty goals for any player, but Breneman rattles them off like a grocery list. They're not some far-away destiny that could or could not happen. To Breneman, they're inevitable.

This four-star prospect would be a valuable addition to any recruiting class in any year. But Breneman's arrival, in many ways, couldn't have come at a better time.

While some college football fans began to wonder if PSU could still recruit well with the sanctions -- or suffer through classes teeming with low-level, MAC-type prospects -- Breneman remained loyal. ESPN's No. 1-rated tight end went on national television and radio shows, interviewed with newspapers and websites, to make two things clear: He wasn't going anywhere. And he loved Penn State.

When some fans' heads became clouded with doubts about Dear Old State, Breneman was there to reiterate that Happy Valley was still a special place. For a school hounded with negative publicity, Breneman was a contrasting force.

He raised more than $80,000 for A.L.S. research, and his unassuming demeanor quickly made him into a fan favorite.

At Nittanyville, a week-long student campout, before the Ohio State game, several fans smiled before naming their favorite player: Breneman, who was still weeks away from graduating high school. On Bill O'Brien's weekly radio show, Penn State's head coach had to deflect questions on at least two occasions when asked about the recruit who hadn't yet signed a letter of intent.

He boasts more Twitter followers (10K+) than anyone else on the football team. And he can't go on a date or walk around campus without someone recognizing him.

Breneman has become valuable to this team and university already because he's exactly what it needed: A high-profile, high-character player with great loyalty and a matching work ethic. He's the key recruit in this class for many reasons -- and he'll be remembered for even more.

Maybe Breneman best summed it up when he tweeted a quote from Tony Gonzalez on Sunday afternoon: "They're gonna remember what you did on the field, obviously. But they're also gonna remember what kind of person you are."

And, for Penn State's tight end of the future, that's made him twice as valuable.