Adam Breneman gets his due

CAMP HILL, Pa. -- Adam Breneman politely deflects praise and compliments with a wave, as if people are speaking nonsense.

The Penn State commitment doesn't stroll the hallways of Cedar Cliff with his chest-puffed out. Instead, athletic director Ken Roseberry said, half his students probably don't even know he's a big-name football player.

So Thursday's ceremony for the 2013 American Family Insurance Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game was the rare instance when a day could be all about Breneman.

"We want to pat him on the back," Roseberry said, "but he won't really let us. He doesn't want any recognition. So it's good we can do this for him today."

While cameras set up inside and some students briskly walked toward the exits, the ESPN 150 prospect was busy outside the auditorium. But he wasn't preparing for the ceremony. Instead, he set up a stand to sell T-shirts and bracelets to raise money for ALS awareness.

He sold 1,000 shirts in just a few weeks and made sure every fan and friend would have to pass that fundraising table before taking their seats inside the auditorium. He's raised about $50,000 for the charity —catch-the-cure.com— so far this year.

"It's crazy. I'm going to the mall and people are asking for pictures. And it's like, what did I do to deserve this?" said an appreciative Breneman, the nation's No. 1 tight end and No. 49 overall prospect. "But you have a chance to impact other people because you are so well-known. So I figured I might as well start this charity."

Breneman won't be able to play in the Under Armour game because of a torn ACL. But Roseberry said he's never seen Breneman, the school's best TE since Kyle Brady, get down on himself. Cedar Cliff head coach Jim Cantafio said, sometimes he sees a twinge of heartbreak on Breneman's face. But the tight end doesn't like to let people see.

After all, Breneman said, he needs to help his teammates. He can't focus on himself.

"Sometimes I really don't want to watch because I'm so upset -- but I have to be a leader," Breneman said. "I'm still a team captain, so I'm always with the guys. I'll send motivational text messages or whatever; I'm there for them."

Roseberry said the basketball coach returned for one more season, and a big reason was because of Breneman's commitment. The athletic director smiled about another situation last week when Breneman started singing and some teammates and alma mater followed. No words needed to be exchanged as he led the pledge thereafter.

And when about 50 of his rowdy teammates entered the auditorium during an interview, Breneman asked matter-of-factly if the interviewer wanted the entire team to quiet down.

"There's nothing he can't do," Cantafio said, smiling.

Breneman's commitment to Penn State hasn't wavered, despite the NCAA levying unprecedented sanctions in July. The 6-foot-4 tight end will enroll early in the university and has quickly become not only one of Penn State's best recruits, but one of the school's top recruiters.

"To really sum up Adam: He's going to Penn State," Cantafio said. "He can go anywhere in the country he wants. He can go to Alabama, he can go to Ohio State. He can go anywhere. You know why he's going to Penn State?

"He wants to help. He wants to help Penn State get out of this situation and get back to the top. If people still need to ask Adam why he's going there, they don't know Adam Breneman."