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Injury closes Adam Breneman's Penn State career

Written by Frank Bodani/York Daily Record | Jan 8, 2016 9:26 AM
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Adam Breneman (81) takes off on his record-setting touchdown play at Wisconsin in 2013. It turned out to be his last big-game performance in a Penn State uniform. (Photo: AP - Morry Gash)

(State College) -- He became a Penn State football star in the end, just more for what he did away from the field than on it.

Tight end Adam Breneman was recruited by Joe Paterno's staff, signed for coach Bill O'Brien but played in only two games over the last two seasons for coach James Franklin.

Despite showing great promise blocking and catching passes during the stretch run of his true freshman season in 2013, injuries to his left knee have shelved him almost exclusively ever since. On Thursday he announced, through Penn State officials, that he was ending his football career early.

"It's been almost two years now working on this injury," Adam Breneman said. "This is something we talk about with trainers and doctors and see what the options are. It was the combination of a lot of things. If I felt I'd be able to play next year I would still be playing.

"It was realizing that I don't think I would ever get to the point where I could practice consistently and play the way my team needs me to be."

He graduated in December and is ready to accept a job opportunity he can't comment on yet, though it is not Penn State or sports-related.

In some ways, the Cedar Cliff grad with family ties to York County, gave more to Penn State football than was ever expected.

First, the No. 2-rated high school tight end in the nation was a main player in keeping Penn State's ever-crucial 2013 recruiting class together after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke and NCAA sanctions slammed the school. He and quarterback Christian Hackenberg were the most vocal and accomplished members of the group that included receiver DaeSean Hamilton, linebacker Brandon Bell, offensive lineman Andrew Nelson and defensive end Garrett Sickels.

Breneman and Hackenberg re-confirmed their verbal commitments during that tumultuous time when other recruits were pulling out and current players were free to transfer without penalty.

"I think that probably will be a highlight for all of us," said father Brian Breneman, a Spring Grove grad. "Unprecedented times, really challenging times, and he and Christian and others in that class all made a commitment based on faith that things will work out. That's a lesson you can draw on the rest of your life."

Said Adam: "I'm most proud of the impact, unexpectedly, that (my) recruiting class has had on this program and this university. What will stick with me are the messages I get and the amount of support and the email I receive about how much I mean and how much my teammates mean to them.

"We gave a lot of people hope when not a lot of Penn State had hope."

Adam Breneman earned his way onto the field as a rookie after tight end Matt Lehman was lost for the season and Kyle Carter was injured, both in the season opener. Breneman caught a touchdown pass in each of his final three games of 2013, including a 68-yarder that sparked the surprising upset at Wisconsin -- the longest scoring play by a tight end in school history.

But he would rarely suit up for Penn State again. He had surgery on his left knee before the 2014 season-opening trip to Ireland and sat out the year rehabbing. The Brenemans declined to publicize the details.

Meanwhile, he seemed to make the most of his Penn State opportunities off the field.

He continued to work his "Catch the Cure for A.L.S." initiative that he began as a high school senior. "Catch the Cure" was inspired by family friend, Tom Kirchhoff, and has raised more than $200,000 to benefit Project A.L.S. Breneman received the 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, as well as the 2013 PA NAIFA Humanitarian Award for his efforts.

He's also served three years on the executive board of Uplifting Athletes, helping the chapter raise more than $1 million for kidney cancer treatment. Last year he joined Penn State's Athletic Director Leadership Institute and was voted by his teammates to the Penn State football leadership council.

Through it all he's continued to be one of the team's top students. He graduated with a 3.25 cumulative GPA and earned his business management degree in just three years. He plans to pursue a career in business or politics.

"I know that it was difficult for Adam to step away from the game, but he felt it was the right time," Franklin said in a press release. "We are so proud of his work in the classroom ... Adam is a special young man that has left his imprint on not only the Penn State football program, but the Penn State community at large. He has been a difference maker at a very young age and has a bright future ahead of him."

Breneman missed all of his senior year at Cedar Cliff after tearing his right ACL in the summer of 2012. His problems with his other knee eventually ended his career completely. Even after more than a year of rehabbing, he practiced only sparingly this season. He played at Ohio State and Michigan State but did not catch a pass.

"What I'm happy for is that although we knew he was going to struggle, at least he got back on the field. That's satisfying. At least he got a chance," Brian Breneman said. "After that injury you realize how special every moment is ..."


This article comes to us through a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

 

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