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Former player: O’Brien ‘very committed to Penn State but… has a chance to chase his dreams’


West Mifflin’s Adam Gress has a future ahead of him. Whether it be in the NFL or as a TV/radio personality, you’ll be hearing from the 6-foot-6, 320-pound former Penn State starting right tackle in the coming years.


PTR-PSUfb5-110613Gress, who earned two undergraduate degrees and finished his Nittany Lions’ playing career last month, is prepping for the NFL Draft. If that doesn’t work out, the telecommunications and broadcast journalism major – combined with an extroverted personality (he was one of the best Twitter follows among PSU players this season) – is a nice fallback plan.


While he plots his own future, Gress has been following the Bill O’Brien will-he-or-won’t-he saga over the past week just like scores of other Penn State alumni and fans. The Lions coach, O’Brien is reportedly the leading candidate for the Houston Texans’ vacant coaching position – and is either about to jump on accepting an offer, or is going to stay at Penn State for a third season, depending on whom you believe.


“I check it out on Twitter and things like that to see what the latest, I guess, rumors are,” Gress said Sunday. “Who knows?”


Just as he did last year at this time when several NFL teams showered him with interest following being named the national coach of the year, O’Brien (and his representatives) have been on lockdown when it comes to information. Neither he nor his agent have responded to phone or email messages from the Tribune-Review (or any other media outlet, for that matter).


“You know him better than that – he’s not gonna tell anyone,” Gress said with a laugh. “He likes to keep you guessing, keep you wondering – especially you guys (in the media). He likes to do anything to keep you on your toes.”


Gress can’t recall O’Brien ever making any sort of flat-out promise that he’d stay at Penn State for any sort of term (beyond a current season), either to him personally or to the team at large.


“I can’t tell you (O’Brien’s plans); my guess is just as good as yours,” Gress said. “But no matter how you look at, it he’s making a good decision (to stay) or he’s making a good decision for himself, and you can’t blame him for that.”


O’Brien, of course, followed legendary Joe Paterno, who coached the Lions for 46 seasons. O’Brien has led Penn State to two consecutive winning seasons and is largely credited with keeping the program afloat following the Jerry Sandusky scandal and resulting crippling NCAA sanctions.


Still, it doesn’t take more than cursory scan of social media or message boards to find members of the Penn State community who already are lambasting O’Brien for even the thought of leaving the team for the NFL.


That troubles Gress.


“Some fans just want to crucify him; I don’t understand that,” he said. “People need to understand everybody has their own dreams, everyone has their own goals. Just because the previous coach stayed here for decades doesn’t mean every coach who comes through here has to do that. He’s had a great impact on the program and is a great guy.”


Gress, of course, wasn’t directly speaking for the 100-some of his now-former teammates. But he indicated he believed most felt the same way he does.


“(O’Brien) is a definitely a guy who loves the NFL, everyone knows that,” Gress said. “But I think he also loves Penn State. I think he’s very committed to Penn State, but I also think he has a chance to chase his dreams…. Either way, I’m in support of whatever he does.”

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Author: Chris Adamski

Chris Adamski joined Trib Total Media's Steelers coverage team in 2014 after spending two seasons on the Penn State football beat for the Trib. Before that, he had worked in Pittsburgh sports media for more than a decade, extensively covering the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Pitt, Duquesne and the WPIAL.

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