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Gilman's Gaia will have an International experience on National Signing Day

Lineman plans to sign with Penn State and play in the International Bowl on Wednesday

January 31, 2012|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

Through the scandal and the university's search for a new coach, Gaia took advice from his father, Tim, and Poggi, who told him to resist a knee-jerk reaction. That wasn't easy when coaches from other programs started calling right away.

Tim Gaia said he was impressed with how quickly new coachBill O'Brienpulled his staff together, which happened while the Gaias were in State College for Brian's official visit.

"We had a Plan B," Tim Gaia said, "and we were ready to pull the trigger on it, but we waited. We supported Brian. He had his reservations, and rightfully so, but he was still committed and we supported him. Is it going to be an easy road from here? I think there will be some bumps in the road. The coaches on [O'Brien's] staff that he kept and the new coaches he brought in that were in the NFL and college have unbelievable resumes. That made me feel comfortable."

About a week after the scandal broke, Brian Gaia heard from defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr., who had recruited him. One of the keys to Gaia staying with the Nittany Lions, he said, was Johnson staying on as part of O'Brien's staff.

Brian Gaia met O'Brien earlier this month and said he feels the new coach can put the program back in the positive headlines.

"[Paterno] was one of the reasons why I picked Penn State, to play for a legendary coach," Gaia said, "so it did affect me a lot when he was fired. But he laid the foundation that even if he had retired during my time there, the school would pick a coach that wasn't a slacker or something like that. I was confident that it was still going to be Penn State."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

Brian Gaia

Age: 17

High School: Gilman

Position: Lineman

Size: 6-foot-4, 195 pounds

College choice: Penn State

Other schools considered: Auburn, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, West Virginia, Iowa, Maryland, Connecticut, Syracuse and Central Florida

All-star games: Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, International Bowl; chosen for the Crab Bowl and the Chesapeake Bowl but did not play

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