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Tuesday, May 7, 2013
2015 QB hearing from Nittany Lions

By Josh Moyer

Sweat dripped from Ryan Brand's forehead after Monday's 90-minute workout. The exhausted dual-threat quarterback could've taken a nap right then -- but his ears perked up when his coach called his name.

His coach at Detroit (Mich.) University of Detroit Jesuit High School handed him a letter, his first FBS letter, stamped with the Nittany Lion emblem in the upper left hand corner.

"That definitely picked me up and gave me energy," Brand said. "I wanted to open it right then, but I don't want to do that around my teammates. It's team first. So I hurried and did it when I got home."

The rising junior first heard from the Nittany Lions in mid-April, when he was clicking through a spam-filled inbox and stumbled upon the words "Penn State" in the subject line. He holds an offer from Montana and garnered interest from Illinois State, but this was the biggest school to send him any mail.

And he wanted to know what was inside Monday. Bad.

He kept glancing at the letter during the ride home. And, once he walked through that front door, Brand tore through the envelope like a gift on Christmas morning. Inside was an invitation to Penn State's underclassman passing camp on June 8, and Brand said he couldn't have felt more excited.

"I figured it'd be one of those letters with the team picture, nothing real serious, but when it said, 'We want you to come to a camp,' and it had my name handwritten, it just kind of reassured me that they were actually looking," Brand said. "I wasn't just a kid in a database."

Brand first burst onto the scene during New Level Athletics' 7-on-7 Midwest Regional in March. He was named as one of the top-five underclassmen there, and team coach Reggie Wynns told ESPN, "I'm hoping he can grow two more inches. If he does that, he'll be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation."

The 5-foot-10 signal-caller reportedly runs in the 4.5s, and his father is 6-foot-4, so the potential is there. His proud dad snapped a photo of Monday's letter and texted it to his close friends, because, Brand said, it meant a lot that a big school overlooked his stature.

"It's kind of funny, because me and my dad were joking around last season and talking about Bill O'Brien and everything," he said. "I kind of became a mini-fan of Penn State, and I was rooting for them. And then this happened -- so it just kind of worked out.

"I wouldn't have been as excited if it was a school like Iowa that I didn't have a lot of interest in. But I really like Penn State."

Brand can also play in the secondary, but the camp invitation is specifically for quarterback. The athlete said he already circled the date on his calendar, and he can't wait to see the campus.

He's still a long way from an FBS scholarship offer, but he took the first step Monday. And he's glad it happens to be with the Nittany Lions.

"I'm very excited," he said. "Very surprised."