Adam Breneman doesn’t care how many bowl games he plays in and he doesn’t feel intimidated by the depth Penn State has at tight end.
The five-star commit wants to play — and he wants to do it right away.
The Camp Hill native, who is ranked as the second best tight end in his 2013 class by Scout.com, said Wednesday he plans on trying to compete for playing time in his first year as a Nittany Lion. Coach Bill O’Brien, Breneman said, has also told the recruit he isn’t going to redshirt him if he believes he can help the team.
The commit is just a few short weeks away from joining the team, as he is enrolling early this spring. Despite tearing his ACL about five months ago, which caused him to sit out his entire senior season at Cedar Cliff High School, Breneman said he expects to recover in time to begin full workouts with the Lions shortly after arriving.
Breneman said he understands there may be benefits of sitting out his freshman year, but not enough to sway him to want to do so.
“Coach O’Brien and I have talked about this a couple times,” Breneman said. “At the end of the day, I’m coming in there with the goal to compete and try to play.”
The recruit said he wants to begin the next chapter of his football career as soon as he arrives, and the NCAA sanctions on Penn State do not affect this decision. Despite the fact that he’d be eligible to play in an additional bowl game if he redshirted, he wants to get started right away.
Breneman will certainly have company at the tight end position, where First-Team Freshman All-American Kyle Carter, Matt Lehman, Jesse James and Garry Gilliam — who combined for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last season — are all set to return.
The commit said that though he isn’t overly concerned with his ability to compete with the talented tight end corps, he understands he has to earn his role on the team before O’Brien grants him anything.
In fact, O’Brien has said he’d like to extend the careers of all members of the class of 2013 by redshirting them, Breneman said. But, the commit said O’Brien also added that redshirting isn’t the best decision for every freshman, depending on his ability to produce right away.
“Coach O’Brien has told [quarterback commit] Christian [Hackenberg] and I, and our whole class…he said, ‘I’d love to redshirt you guys. I’d love to redshirt your whole class,’ ” Breneman said.
“But, [O’Brien] also said to me, he said, ‘I expect you to be able to come in and play as a freshman. If you can, if you playing as a freshman would help this team, then I’m not going to redshirt you.’ ”
Scott Kennedy, director of scouting for Scout.com, said despite the depth the Lions have at his position, he expects Breneman to compete for a primary role next fall.
The recruiting analyst said the 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end is a “wide receiver in a big man’s body” that offers a rare combination of terrific hands and body control.
“I think his receiving skills are good enough that he can come in on four-wide sets and drop him in the slot,” Kennedy said. “Even if he’s not taking on 280-pound defensive ends [in] run blocking, he’s a good enough receiver that he can come in and be part of the passing game.”
And in opposition to those who use the commit’s ACL injury as a reason for him to redshirt, Kennedy said this is probably the main reason Breneman wants play immediately, since he wouldn’t want to take two consecutive years off from competing.
Wanting to play right away is a typical concern for incoming freshmen, Kennedy added, but especially for Breneman, who likely has a long football career ahead of him.
“A player at [Breneman’s] level is thinking NFL,” Kennedy said. “He’s thinking four years [playing in college], tops, anyway. So, he’s thinking, ‘Why am I going to redshirt? I want to play as much as I can before I move on to my job [in the NFL].’ ”
However, in the end, the highly-touted recruit said he is going to be willing to do whatever the coaching staff suggests will get his career off to the best start possible.
“Whether or not I’m able to play and whatever coach O’Brien decides to do, I’m going to be okay with either way,” Breneman said. “I just know that I’m going to have a great career and I trust my career in coach O’Brien’s hands.”