The Trail: Bradshaw makes his decision -- Gazette.Net


Jimmy Cone is a famous ice cream shop in Damascus and a landmark for sweet treats for many Montgomery County residents.

The Creamery, Penn State University's well-known ice cream store, however, does not quite match the former's taste for Damascus High School rising senior Zach Bradshaw.

Bradshaw, who verbally accepted a scholarship offer from the Nittany Lions' football program on Wednesday, drove to State College, Pa. with his family on Sunday and sampled the cookies and cream flavor.

“They both have tradition and are great,” said Bradshaw, who returned from a church mission trip to Honduras last week. “But I have to go with a slight edge to Jimmy Cone because it's what I love and grew up with. Maybe PSU's ice cream will eventually get into the top of my book.”

Penn State was one of Bradshaw's final four college choices. The other finalists were South Carolina, Virginia and Northwestern.

“I had a great opportunity, and it was the right choice, and i didn't want to let it slip away,” Bradshaw said Wednesday. “I'm so happy, this relieves a lot of stress, so I can just focus on playing football this fall.”

Sunday's trek to Penn State's campus was his second unofficial visit to the school and he met with Ron Vanderlinden, the team's linebacker coach. During Bradshaw's previous trip, Vanderlinden was out of town and he met with first-year coach Bill O'Brien.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete was impressed with the coaching staff, aggressive defensive schemes and the overall campus.

“I like [Vanderlinden] a lot,” Bradshaw said. “I like the campus a lot. It's a really big school, but in a pretty confined area. They run similar stuff to what I already do at Damascus with a 4-3 front and 90 percent of the time I would be outside of the box.

“Everything else going on not related to football [sex offender and former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's trial] has not been a concern at all. Coach O'Brien answered all the questions we had regarding that.”

Penn State had four scholarship spots — two at inside linebacker and two at outside linebacker — available, according to Bradshaw.

“There is always pressure to verbal,” he said. “There is always an opportunity before you and you don't want to see it go to someone else.”

Offense or defense?

When Bradshaw initially began the college football recruiting process 18 months ago, he was more interested in schools that offered him scholarships to play on the offensive side of the ball.

Bradshaw, who is an outside linebacker, wide receiver and kick returner, admits he still likes to have the ball in his hands on every play, the idea of playing defense full time has grown on him.

Penn State and Virginia offered a scholarship to play linebacker while South Carolina and Northwestern wanted him on the offensive side of the ball.

“Sitting down with the coaches and seeing what linebackers do has really impressed me,” Bradshaw said. “Physically I think I have a better chance at the [college] level on defense in some cases.”

The All-Gazette first team selection said he briefly considered another visit to South Carolina, but ultimately decided to make the decision to attend Penn State.

Previously on The Trail

Part 1: Bradshaw at the beginning of 'The Trail'

Part 2: Top recruit got started in youth programs

Part 3: Damascus junior WR/LB displays versatility this fall for college recruiter

Part 4: Damascus junior LB/WR holds 14 scholarship offers