After a brief hiatus, the VBR series of player previews for the 2014 season continues with a few more offensive players before switching to the defense. Today’s featured player is offensive guard Brian Gaia. After playing on the defensive side of the ball at Penn State, head coach James Franklin moved Gaia to the offensive line at the start of spring practice to fill some depth issues.
Gaia entered Penn State as a top-25 offensive lineman recruit, but was moved to the defensive side of the ball. At The Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland, he helped lead his team to three Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A titles and earned an all-state selection three times.
After being given a redshirt in 2012, Gaia found his way into the defensive line rotation as a defensive tackle in 2013 in an effort to help with some depth issues. He appeared in every game and recorded five total tackles.
While he didn’t have much of an impact last season, Gaia figures to play a big role in 2014. The offensive line is the biggest area of need for the Nittany Lions this season. Even before the off-season injury to Miles Dieffenbach Anthony Alosi’s decision to leave the program, Franklin knew he needed some more offensive lineman.
With the experience of playing guard in high school, Gaia was the perfect candidate to move from defense to offense.
The Nittany Lions have an experienced quarterback returning in 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg and a talented trio of running backs in Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch. It will be up to Gaia and his offensive line partners to provide solid protection for the offensive skill players.
Offensive linemen are often overlooked, but play perhaps the most important position on a football team. Gaia has an opportunity to win a starting job in 2014 and be a part of a unit that will try to help the Nittany Lions continue to have one of the top-performing offenses in the Big Ten.