Kasey Gaines (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) was scribbling in his ACT practice booklet when his cell phone rumbled Sunday afternoon: Call Ted Roof, a text from his dad said.
Gaines sat up on his bed and gave the Penn State defensive coordinator a ring. After 10 minutes of catching up, Roof finally said the words Gaines waited to hear.
The Nittany Lions were offering a scholarship to the 2013 defensive back prospect.
Gaines tried to contain his excitement. But he was still at a loss for words. He wasn't expecting a scholarship; he hadn't yet received a single offer from another FBS school.
But he was glad to have it.
"They told me they were interested because of camp," said Gaines, who said he ran a 4.4-second 40 there. "A couple weeks ago, Coach Roof asked me if I could think about graduating early and I figured then they must really be interested."
ESPN lists Gaines at 5-foot-9, 142 pounds, but Gaines said he has grown to 5-11, 160. Penn State is looking at him both as a safety and a cornerback, he said.
Wisconsin also has shown some interest, but Gaines said his college decision is now down to just two schools: Harvard and Penn State.
He has received offers from VMI, Presbyterian, Howard, Harvard and Penn State. He was already envisioning obtaining a degree with that Harvard emblem on it, so he said the offer from Roof will cause him to rethink those daydreams.
"It's every kid's dream to grow up and play Division I football," Gaines said. "So, now that Penn State has offered, it's just going to be a tough decision. I'll have to talk it over with my parents."
Roof asked Gaines to call him back in a week to let him know where his mind was. He wasn't asking for a commitment this early, and Gaines said he was torn at this point.
The sanctions, he said, wouldn't factor into his decision.
"The way I think of it is it's a new era for Penn State," he said. "Some might say they're trying to rebuild, and I feel honored they chose me and they were interested in me. That's how I look at it."