For a rising junior, that’s the next best thing. The Charlotte, N.C., Christian School inside linebacker was invited to the Nittany Lions expected Whiteout game against Ohio State at Beaver Stadium in October. He was given a rundown of film the program would need for evaluation purposes that could lead to an offer, too.
All in all, Gilmartin and his family left University Park pleased that they made the long drive to visit Penn State. That was important, too.
“My coach called them up and let them know that it’s a long drive and a lot of money, so he asked if it was worth coming up,” Gilmartin said. “They told him ‘Ryan Gilmartin is on a short list of players [they are evaluating] right now.’
“That felt like a good reason for me to visit Penn State and see what it’s all about.”
The junior camped with linebacker coach Brent Pry and the rest of the staff then at Sunday’s instructional camp. It didn’t take long for the player and coach to hit it off.
“I love what he has envisioned for the program,” Gilmartin said. “He loves guys that are not just freak athletes, but are students of the game, technique, and take it seriously and work hard.
“I could see him being a head coach. He’s great.”
Gilmartin’s read wasn’t far off: Pry reportedly turned down a head coaching opportunity to join James Franklin’s staff as the assistant head coach, among other duties.
Speaking of the head coach, the linebacker didn’t speak much with the Franklin, what with his long list of responsibilities on any given camp leading to a hectic day. Gilmartin said he was blown away by Franklin nonetheless.
“Coach Franklin is a mirror image of my father. He was standing out there in front of the [Beaver Stadium gates] introducing himself as the head coach. That speaks volumes.”
“Coach Franklin is a mirror image of my father,” Gilmartin said. “He was standing out there in front of the [Beaver Stadium gates] introducing himself as the head coach. That speaks volumes.
“I spoke more with Coach Pry, but I’m sure when I come up for the Ohio State game, I’ll get a chance to see where they see me.”
Right now, the program sees him as an inside linebacker. Pry told the junior to send in film early in the season of him doing everything from pass coverage to work in the box and even playing fullback. He added the Penn State staff could see him there, as well.
Gilmartin believes his high school coaches will put him into position to have the film Penn State wants to see. He will make his last visit of the summer to Virginia Wednesday, and said he will take visits this fall to Georgia Tech, Michigan State and North Carolina State along with the Lions.
He already knows what he wants to see on that return trip to University Park.
“First of all, it’s pretty far away, so I want to see if I feel at home,” he said. “I want to see just the student life and the feeling of the game and if I could see myself playing [at Penn State].
“I want to experience game day and see if I could see myself four to five years there, and if I could fit in if I wasn’t playing football but just being a student on campus.”
Wake Forest and Holy Cross have offered the 6-foot, 218-pounder heading into the season.