Gilman's Brian Gaia talks Penn State commitment
Brian Gaia prides himself on being a "blue collar" football player, happily going about his business on Gilman's offensive and defensive lines while letting his more high-profile teammates grab all the headlines.
When it came to recruiting, the Greyhounds junior stuck to that approach, taking a few visits with the hope of reaching a decision on his college future before his senior year began.
Last weekend, Gaia accomplished that goal, committing to Penn State over offers from Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Rutgers, Tennessee, Wake Forest and West Virginia.
“It feels good,” Gaia said Monday. “A lot of pressure off me right now.”
Gaia, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound defensive tackle and offensive tackle, was a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection for his play on the Greyhounds’ offensive line last fall. In State College, Gaia – who recorded 13 tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble – is pegged for the defensive line.
“Brian’s just an absolute monster on both sides of the ball,” said Greyhounds assistant coach Henry Russell. “He’s incredibly strong, a real physical player. We use him to plug up the middle on defense. He does a great job of that. He normally takes on two blockers. On offense, a lot of times we’re running right behind Brian. We were fortunate to have him and [Wake Forest-bound] Hunter Goodwin last year. It’s a pretty nice combo to run behind. He’s just got a great motor and he just wants to get out there and play. He works his butt off.”
Gaia’s first visit to Penn State came during the Nittany Lions’ 28-22 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 27. Despite the loss, Gaia said he was blown away by a packed Beaver Stadium. A return trip to State College for a spring practice gave him a more up-close look at the program.
“It was kind of cool to see Coach [Joe] Paterno in action,” Gaia said. “He was a really fun guy. We had a little talk. He’s a real down-to-earth guy.”
Gaia, who’s interested in studying either business or sports management, said Penn State’s academics and the Big Ten’s reputation for putting linemen in the NFL were two more factors that put the Nittany Lions “out front” for most of his recruitment.
“My family, coaches, teammates thought it was the best pick,” Gaia said. “That weighed on me more than anything. It came down to an opportunity and it was the best decision for me.”
Baltimore Sun photo of Brian Gaia by Kenneth K. Lam / Dec. 12, 2010