Temple safety Gildea has added motivation against Penn State

Posted: September 21, 2012

Justin Gildea grew up less than an hour's drive from Penn State.

The Altoona native went to countless Nittany Lion games with his father, Stephen, a Penn State alumnus.

Like many Central Pennsylvania players, his goal was to play for the Nittany Lions. But Penn State was not interested in Gildea, a second-team all-state cornerback at Hollidaysburg Area High School.

"Growing up, I kind of felt like I always had a grudge against Penn State, especially in high school," said Gildea, who has started for Temple at strong safety for three years.

So the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder heads into Saturday's matchup with Penn State at Beaver Stadium with added motivation.

"Growing up in that area . . . you expect them to take a look at you," Gildea said. "Not doing that, you want to show them you can play and show them what you can do."

Despite a successful career at Temple, the senior still plays with a chip on his shoulder.

And it's not just Penn State. He wants schools like Pittsburgh, Maryland, Purdue, and Virginia to realize they all made mistakes by not offering him a scholarship.

Gildea has started 23 career games for the Owls. He has registered 123 career tackles, eight pass breakups, three interceptions, three sacks, and two fumble recoveries.

He leads Temple with three pass breakups this season.

"He's a tough guy," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "He's a smart guy. You know, he's really got a great work ethic. And I think he's got a lot of pride."

Gildea's pride was hit with a haymaker in a 36-27 setback to Maryland on Sept. 8. Terrapins quarterback Perry Hills torched the Owls for two touchdown passes.

And on a key third-and-11 play, he completed a 38-yard pass to wideout Stefon Diggs to the Owls' 13-yard line. Running back Justus Pickett scored from 7 yards out three plays later to put the game away.

Temple (1-1) had a bye last week. Gildea is hoping a good showing against the 1-2 Nittany Lions can help the Owls defensive backs put their performance against Maryland behind them.

Temple came close to upsetting Penn State in the last two seasons.

The Nittany Lions won, 14-10, last season as the Owls threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the second half. Twelve plays after Mike Gerardi's second interception, Penn State's Michael Zordich scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with 2 minutes, 42 seconds left.

"Everybody has kind of been focusing on doing their job, and whenever their number is called getting the job done," Gildea said. "Because I think last year, there was like one or two plays" that decided the game.

Come Saturday, he said, half of his friends from Central Pennsylvania will be rooting for the Owls.

"And half of them are going to root for Penn State," Gildea said. "So, yeah, I am going to have a lot of people at Penn State. I've just got to prove to them what Temple's about."

He also wants to prove that Penn State made a mistake when it failed to recruit him.

Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or kpompey@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/OwlsInq.


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