Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a Penn State recruit, player, alum or coach.
This week's subject is Kasey Gaines (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) , a three-star safety who chatted with NittanyNation and said Thursday night he was now leaning toward a Penn State commitment. He's a two-year starter at ESPN's No.1-ranked high school football team and is listed No. 79 nationally at his position.
NittanyNation: What's special about Grayson that allows it to have team that's hauling in all these national preseason awards?
Kasey Gaines: I think it has a lot to do with our bond. I think our team is a lot closer than other teams out there; we're almost like a family. Most of us grew up with each other, and we've just grown closer. On top of that, we have one of the best coaching staffs -- these guys are great men in general and have great values and know how to teach us.
I don't know how we got seven Division I athletes. I grew up with them, some are my best friends. It just kind of happened. Football is serious in our town and, if you're a little kid, you look up to the high school players.
NN: Since Penn State offered, have any other FBS schools started looking at you more?
KG: It's funny. Wisconsin kind of cracked down on me once I got that offer. I got a couple handwritten letters from a DB coach there, and I got invited to one of their games. They actually called the school like Monday or Tuesday after I got the [PSU] offer.
If they offer, I don't know. It would make the decision tougher because Wisconsin's a good school. I guess I'll have to wait to see if they make a move.
NN: You're still deciding between Harvard and Penn State but, since you're leaning toward PSU, what is it that you like about that school?
KG: Tradition. I can't say I know much about Penn State. I haven't followed them my whole life, but some people call them the Alabama up north. And when I visted there, I really did like the coaching staff. Of course, I love Coach [Ted] Roof. He knows my family and all that. He's a great guy.
NN: You mentioned before that PSU's defensive coordinator asked you if you would be willing to graduate early. Have you looked into that, and would you do it?
KG: I talked to my counselor about that, and that would be really difficult to do. I'd have to take a lot of extra online classes. And doing that on top of football practice, I don't think that would work.
NN: Let's talk about tonight. You play one of the next best high school teams in the country Friday in Central (Miami, Fla.) --- USA Today ranks them ahead of you guys -- so is that kind of your Super Bowl of the regular season?
KG: Yeah, I guess you could say that. I know there's a lot of hype, but we want to go in there every game and come out on top and just stay focused on our game. We want to stay out of the hype. It's going to be a special experience for us; it's going to be two good teams going at it.