A dream is often hard to crush, especially when just the right amount of dedication, perseverance and connections are attached to it. That's how it was for Old Forge (Pa.) High running back Brian Tomasetti, who decided long ago that his dream was to follow in his father Rich's footsteps, and play for Penn State.
A connection with a fellow Scranton (Pa.) native, a big senior season and an undying work ethic helped Tomasetti fulfill that wish when he was offered, and accepted, a run-on spot at Penn State Wednesday.
“I have always wanted to go there. I absolutely love everything about the program, and my father played there which makes it even more special,” Tomasetti said. “I made my decision years ago when I set my goal to become a Nittany Lion. That's all I ever wanted to be, so it was very easy [to pass up other offers].”
A two-way player for 11-1 Old Forge, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior rushed for 1,800 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. He was equally effective on the defensive side, grabbing nine interceptions, three of which went for touchdowns.
“I feel like whenever I have the ball in my hands, I can do good things,” Tomasetti said. “My teammates put me in position to do a lot of good things.”
Tomasetti first heard from Penn State late in the fall after building a bond with former West Scranton High and Penn State offensive lineman Eric Shrive at an end-of-season banquet. From there, his conversations with PSU offensive line coach Mac McWhorter took off, culminating with Tomasetti and his family visiting University Park Jan. 20 for “Run-On Day.”
It only took a few phone calls and applications after that for Tomasetti to become the latest member of his family to plan his future academic and athletic pursuits in Happy Valley.
“I met Eric at the banquet, and we really got to talk to each other for the first time. My mom knew some of his family prior to that,” Tomasetti said. “I told him I was interested in running on, and he said he would help in any way he could.”
He'll head to University Park in June, and already cannot wait to be tutored by a head coach for whom he has an exceeding admiration.
“In my eyes, Coach [Bill] O'Brien is the best coach in the country,” Tomasetti said. “He's done a fantastic job with the program, and he's a straight forward kind of guy. That's my attitude, too.”
Now his attitude is to continue to grow and improve as a Nittany Lion. It's a special path, following in his father's footsteps, ones that led him right to the college of his dreams.
“With my dad being a former player, he loves the program,” Tomasetti said. “Our whole family does, and I've been going to games since I was very young. I love the program, and knew that's where I belong. Now, it's all paid off.”