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September 30, 2011

Breneman becomes small town star

MORE FARRELL: Mid-Atlantic mailbag | Notes

Coming from a small town in rural Pennsylvania, junior tight end Adam Breneman has quickly made a name for himself both on the field and in the recruiting world. Along the way he has worked hard to improve his game, plus he has had the opportunity to pick up some advice from a local legend, former Penn State great and NFL first round draft choice Kyle Brady.

Starting on the gridiron at the age of 10, Breneman made his debut on the offensive line, but quickly realized that his future was at a different position.

"In middle school I had my biggest growth spurt and I've grown a couple of inches since then," said Breneman, who was 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds as a high school freshman. "When I was in eighth grade I played on the freshman football team. It was the first year I played wide receiver and I did really well. The varsity coach sat me down after the first game and said that I can be really good. Then I started varsity as a freshman, so that's when it really began to take off."

Now 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, it did not take Breneman long to realize that he may have the opportunity to continue his football playing days after Cedar Cliff High School.

"After my freshman season my coach told me that if I keep working, I'm going to be a D-I tight end," said Breneman. "I didn't really believe him, because I hadn't even ever played tight end before, but then after my sophomore season it all became a reality."

But following a sophomore season in which he caught 60 passes for 870 yards and eight touchdowns, it became clear to Breneman that he was putting up rare numbers for his position. And he still remembers the day that all of his dreams actually became reality.

"It was awesome," he said. "I still remember getting my first offer from Boston College like it was yesterday. It felt really good to see some hard work start to pay off, but at the same time it made me want to work that much harder."

While Cedar Cliff High School is not a regular producer of top level talent, the central Pennsylvania school does have a couple of famous alumni.

"It's pretty rare for a BCS player to come through Cedar Cliff," said Breneman. "Kyle Brady, who went to Penn State and was a top 10 NFL pick, went to Cedar Cliff and so did (linebacker) Coy Wire, who just retired from the NFL. So there have been some, but not many."

Considering Brady was also a tight end, this has given Breneman a unique opportunity.

"I had lunch with him a couple of months ago when he came up from his home in Florida," said Breneman. "We still stay in touch. He is giving me advice on how to handle the whole process and what it takes to make it to the NFL. He has also told me to stay humble and to never take anything for granted. When he comes back up after the season we're going to work out and run some routes together, so I'm looking forward to getting some tips from him."

While Brady is a big influence on Breneman, he emulates two other tight ends who caught a few more passes than the former Nittany Lion.

"In college it was Kyle Rudolph because I like the way he stretched the field and was used in the slot a lot at Notre Dame," he said. "And in the NFL I watch Jason Witten of the Cowboys because he is a complete tight end. He can block, he can make the tough catches over the middle and take the punishment, and he can stretch the field."

The recruiting process is already a hectic part of Breneman's day, with early offers from Alabama, Michigan, Florida State, Boston College, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers, Purdue, Temple, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Virginia.

"It can definitely get stressful," said Breneman. "I try to take it all in stride and I realize it is all a huge blessing. Football and school always come first. My dad manages a lot of the recruiting stuff during the season, so it takes some stress off of me."

Breneman's dad, Brian, was also a tight end in college at Delaware Valley College, a D-III school, a few decades back where he earned All-American honors. At first Adam didn't believe it.

"He's like 6-foot-2 and I was like, 'You're too small to have played tight end'," he laughed. "He had to pull out some old newspaper clippings to prove it to me. He had me running tight end pass routes when I was 10 years old and I think he always wanted me to play the same position. We were both disappointed when I started off at offensive line and then I tried quarterback and that went horribly, so I moved to wide receiver and now tight end. It's cool we play the same position."

Breneman just took a visit to Virginia last weekend and has also been to Maryland and Penn State this season. He also has visits lined up to Rutgers for its game against Pittsburgh and also to Notre Dame for its game against USC. He would also like to get out to see Pitt.

"I just want to get out and see the schools and get a feel for the programs and staffs," said Breneman. "I want to start to narrow things down after the season so I can hopefully make a decision before my senior season. I'd prefer to stay closer to home if possible, but I'm open to all schools and I want to see as many as I can before deciding."

Considering he is from central Pennsylvania, it is not surprising that he grew up cheering for Penn State. However he claims that this will not affect his decision. To this point, Penn State has yet to offer the talented junior, but he believes that the Nittany Lions, along with Miami and Florida could be the next to pull the trigger. Auburn has also shown recent interest.

"I'm pretty sure Penn State will offer me at least by February," he said. "I can't say that I have a dream offer or anything like that, but Penn State would be the closest to that. I just grew up a fan. I've talked to the coaches about how they use the tight ends and when they have a guy who can stretch the field, they use him quite often like they did with Andrew Quarless.

"I think they'd do that with me too, but just because I grew up a fan doesn't mean that's where I'll end up. I want to get the ball a lot. That may sound selfish but it's not. I just love to have the ball in my hands."

Mike Farrell can be reached at mfarrell01@cox.net. You can follow him on Twitter @rivalsmike.



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