Breneman factors into offense as a true freshman

Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien watches a replay on the scoreboard. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Adam Breneman still hasn’t been at Penn State for a year, but he’s already established himself as a viable tight end in the Nittany Lions’ offense.  

The true freshman enrolled early at Penn State for the spring semester in January. He had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in high school, which cost him his senior season in football and basketball. 

Breneman has since recovered, catching nine passes for 84 yards in 2013. His development from an injured rookie to a college-level threat has drawn out his time in Happy Valley so far. 

“It seems like it was a long time ago,” Breneman said, referring to his arrival. “I was just talking to a friend the other day, ‘I’ve been at Penn State for so long.’

“It takes me back to the time when I committed my junior year of high school seems like forever ago.” 

Breneman said he initially planned to finish high school and enroll at Penn State afterward. But the day after suffering his injury, he talked over his options with coach Bill O’Brien. The two decided it would be in his best interest to move his recovery to Penn State as soon as possible. 

The journey from that decision to now has been an arduous one for the former highly touted recruit. 

“[The ACL tear] is tough to come back from,” Breneman said. “It’s as much mental as it is physical. I really think coming in here in the spring helped me out a lot. Just participating in spring practice, I was able to do some things, and work my way in. When I came to camp, I was able to have a lot of confidence and not be thinking about my knee anymore.” 

In addition to his injury, Breneman was one of Penn State’s most outspoken recruits after the NCAA imposed its sanctions upon the university. He and now-starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg vehemently reiterated their commitment to the university before they officially stepped foot on campus. 

Once part of the program, Breneman said he enjoyed his break from the public spotlight. He played 30 to 40 rounds of golf this summer at the Blue White Golf Course, which he said is his favorite place to frequent on campus — when he has the time. 

Before Wednesday, Breneman had also been closed off from the media — a standard practice for true freshmen at most universities. He is the second first-year player Penn State made available this season, along with his friend Hackenberg. 

If his early success is any indication for success down the road, fans will be hearing from Breneman much more throughout his career at Penn State. 

“He's another guy that I think is a young player who's got a really bright future here,” O’Brien said. “He's a great kid, practices hard, practices hurt. He's had some ankle issues and foot issues this year, and he's practiced with it and done a nice job. Hopefully he'll keep contributing over the last three games and we can continue to try to get him the ball and help him in that area, too.”