"When the Freeh Report came out, I sent a text message to all the guys in our recruiting class and said, 'Listen, in 5 years, ESPN won't be talking about the Freeh Report,' " Breneman said. " 'They'll do a '30 for 30' special on how we became National Champions 4 years after the [Jerry] Sandusky scandal. There's going to be books written about us. There's going to be a movie about us. We have a huge chance to do something special that people will remember for a long time.' "
With that breed of dedication, Breneman and his colleagues have turned into bastions of hope for a beleaguered Penn State fan base, even though they have yet to take a snap as Nittany Lions. Penn State fans have lauded Breneman's maturity and dedication for things like his "Catch the Cure" movement that has raised $42,000 for the fatal disease ALS.
Vocal to the media and on Twitter about his support of the school where he will enroll in January, Breneman says the sanctions levied against Penn State in July present him and his fellow commits, like five-star quarterback Christian Hackenberg, a very unique opportunity. Sure, they won't have many chances to play for a Big Ten title or National Championship and Penn State has a reduction of scholarships, but Breneman says they will be playing for more than football.
Breneman, 6-5, 228, knows that he and his fellow commits could just as easily go to Alabama or LSU and join their legions of prized recruits. But at Penn State, they can become heroes.
"I think we kind of see the bigger picture here and understand the opportunity that we have to impact a community in a helpful way," Breneman said.
Meanwhile, at Beaver Stadium, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien knows the hand he has been dealt in recruiting as a result of the sanctions isn't exactly a royal flush. But at a Tuesday news conference, he talked for a few minutes about the recruiting landscape he faces.
But O'Brien wasn't down in the dumps about it. He praised Penn State's coaching staff, the television exposure, stadium size and brand of student-athletes. He even banged on the table as he emphasized that Penn State is a very special place.
"OK, the numbers? The numbers aren't equal compared to the other teams out there. We understand that. As a staff, we've got to do a great job of understanding that," O'Brien said. "But at the end of the day, I've been very, very impressed with the fact that people really, really enjoy being recruited by us, coming to the game here - talking about prospects watching us play - and being around these guys when they come down to the locker room after the game . . . So is it going to be hard? Yeah. Recruiting's hard; recruiting's hard. But at the end of the day, I think there's a lot of good stuff."
Breneman, who hails from Camp Hill, and attends Cedar Cliff High, committed to Penn State in March. After the NCAA levied the sanctions that cost Penn State $60 million, scholarships, wins and chances at titles, Penn State saw its 2013 class drop from a Top 15 ranking on Rivals.com to No. 46 as several members jumped ship to schools like Michigan or Notre Dame.
Breneman said that though he himself is totally committed to Penn State, he understands why some of the former pledges would change their minds given the circumstances. But Breneman is staying put.
"I think he's very dedicated to Penn State and to Coach O'Brien," his father Brian said. "I think one of the things that's attracted Adam, in addition to the university and the fan base and the style of offense, which is a big deal for him, is the opportunity to be a part of, if you will, a rebuilding process because of what's happened up there. I think he looks at that as a real leadership opportunity, and that's something that, in some ways, he thrives on."
When it comes to the actual playing of the game, Breneman knows he's entering a school with a deep tight-end corps that has gotten contributions from several different players this season.
No matter. He said he has no plans to redshirt, and would be "selling myself short" if he didn't compete for a starting spot as a true freshman.
"I feel confident in my abilities and good about my opportunity to go there and play, and play as a freshman. That's my goal," Breneman said. "I think that I can do that."
He added: "A lot of good can come from a lot of bad."