Two Knee Injuries Later, Adam Breneman Poised For Successful Season

It’s been more than a year since tight end Adam Breneman suited up for a regular season football game. When he last did, he was wrapping up his best game in a strong freshman year: a three catch, 78-yard performance in a thriller against Wisconsin, most of them coming on a crucial 68-yard touchdown catch.

A year removed from a knee surgery that kept him out for his entire senior year of high school, Breneman was concluding his first year on a productive note and looked poised to expand his role in a talented group of tight ends alongside Jesse James and Kyle Carter.

Then it happened again.

Another knee injury, this time a bone bruise that led to swelling and eventual surgery in the opposite knee. After careful consideration, Breneman decided to redshirt for his sophomore season. Now, with just more than a week until the Blue-White game, Breneman will gear up and take the field once again, this time finally healthy.

“I have been full go in the spring, but making sure we’re not over-doing things,” Breneman said in a conference call Tuesday. “It’s part of the process. It’s been great to get back in pads, to get back with the team.”

Breneman admitted to being emotionally drained at times after the diagnosis, but drew on the experience of missing his senior year in high school. He found support from his teammates and grew close with linebacker Ben Kline, who spent the entire season rehabbing with a knee injury of his own.

“It’s hard to be a leader [when you’re out],” Breneman said. “I just tried to be there when guys wanted someone to talk to. Coach Franklin talks all the time about the ultimate teammate. That’s what I tried to be.”

While Breneman stayed very much engaged with his teammates, the time off allowed him to focus on other aspects in his life while he returned to health.

“I learned how to live without football for a while,” Breneman said. “Having that year off gave me a chance to think about school, so I could focus 100 percent in the classroom. I almost got a 4.0 last semester, I ended up with a 3.9.”

The redshirt sophomore still did what he needed to do physically to get back on track. He said his bench press went up 60 pounds and he added 10 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame. Spring practices and the Blue White game will provide him with needed reps, though he said he’s trying to take it easy with his sights set on the summer as far as improving his athleticism and conditioning as he tries to get back to game speed.

As Breneman works his way back into the fold, he’ll once again bolster the tight end corps. Though James decided to enter the NFL Draft, Mike Gesicki stepped up as another option as a freshman last season. Breneman said that offensive coordinator John Donovan, who received plenty of criticism for a struggling offense last season, is just the guy to get the most out of the group.

“Coach Donovon’s the best spin for the tight end group, as far as personalities match up,” Breneman said. “He’s earned respect in that he’s willing to go to battle for us and we’ll go to battle for him.”

While his patience has been tested both before and during his time at Penn State, Breneman has shown the maturity to not rush. That’ll all pay off when he steps foot on the field next Saturday.

“The one thing I’ve learned through the two injuries is that this is all part of a big process,” Breneman said. “I found it as a kind of a positive thing as I was able to redshirt, grow and mature, and take a year to get stronger.”

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