Gulla Gets Kick Out of PSU Visit

New Jersey special teams standout mulling walk-on options. Where do the Nittany Lions stand after he stopped by campus last week?

Chris Gulla is pretty familiar with University Park. And once February rolls around, he may be preparing to get to know the campus even more.

With a sister graduating from the Smeal College of Business this spring, and a lifetime of watching, following and keeping tabs on Penn State, the Toms River, N.J. kicker/punter has the Nittany Lions high on his list as of schools where he may walk-on. And his familiarity with the program only grew when he visited University Park last Tuesday.

“The visit was really good,” Gulla said. “I wanted to get some clarity on the walk-on stuff, and talk to Coach [Bill] O'Brien, and that's exactly what we did.

“It was exactly what I wanted to talk about, and exactly how I expected it to be,” he added.

Gulla first visited University Park as a recruit for the Nittany Lions' season opener against Ohio, but has been keeping in close contact with Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden ever since. However, Tuesday's time on campus was more about the 6-foot-2, 195-prospect learning more about O'Brien and what he's looking for.

“The thing that really struck me about Coach O'Brien is how down to earth he is and how cool of a guy he is,” Gulla said. “He just told me about the situations he's in, and how he'd like to have me come on board.”

The situation O'Brien is in, of course, leaves just 15 scholarships per year to fill a variety of needs, making any player who can multitask as a preferred walk-on all the more valuable. And what Gulla heard on a chilly Tuesday afternoon was exactly that.

“I'd be able to get on campus July 1, and compete right away for both the punting and kicking job,” Gulla said. “Whoever performs best in camp would get it. That's what Coach O'Brien said, and the opportunity to compete for both of those jobs, as well as the opportunity to earn a role on kickoffs, would be huge in my first year.”

But Gulla has learned patience as a special teamer, always waiting to be called on. That trait has him taking the recruiting process slow.

“I'm going to take a visit to Rutgers in January, and just make sure nothing else comes up,” Gulla said. “The last thing I'd want to do is make a commitment and then de-commit because someone else came into the picture late.”

With less than two months remaining between now and signing day in February, the time to make a decision for Gulla is coming. And while most recruits dislike waiting to decide, it's no problem for the high-powered kicker.

“I'm just going to make sure everything is done before I decide, but right now, Penn State is my top walk-on choice,” Gulla said. “I feel like I'd fit in well with the rest of the team.”

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