Brackett Catching on at Receiver

Former quarterback has become a mainstay in the Nittany Lion receiver corps, using his size to carve out more playing time.

Coming out of Lawrence High in Lawrenceville, N.J., Brett Brackett was a quarterback. That changed two weeks into his first college season.

In the second game of Brackett's freshman campaign at Penn State, the Nittany Lions faced Notre Dame on the road. Brackett was redshirting at the time, and thought he'd spend most of 2006 playing quarterback on the scout team.

He was on the scout team, all right. But to help prepare for the Irish, the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder was asked to play the role of an All-American receiver of similar size.

“They needed a big target to play [Jeff] Samardzija and I guess I did a better job at receiver than they thought I was going to do,” Brackett said.

Penn State was crowded at quarterback at the time — Anthony Morelli, Paul Cianciolo, Daryll Clark, Kevin Suhey and Pat Devlin were all on scholarship at the position — so by the spring of 2007, Brackett officially made a position change.

He saw limited action in 2007 but has been a mainstay of the receiver corps this year.

Brackett hasn't caught a huge number of passes — just seven for 94 yards and a touchdown — but he has helped in other ways.

“I have a little bit of a different size than other receivers do on our team,” he said. “They stick me out there in situations where they expect me to make blocks. So I take a lot of pride in blocking because that's going to get me on the field right now. We have guys that catch the ball, guys that are real fast like Deon [Butler] and Derrick [Williams]. I'm not going to be able to make an impact doing that right now.”

Against Oregon State, Brackett came back across the field and cut the defensive end, helping running back Evan Royster score. That block, Brackett said, is his favorite.

His blocking hasn't gone unnoticed by his fellow receivers, either.

“Brackett's a guy that will bowl over you, a bigger guy,” Butler said.

Moving from quarterback was something Brackett realized could happen when he picked Penn State.

“When I was coming in, people said always said to me 'Watch out, they might move you to tight end.' It was something that was definitely a reality,” he said. “It wasn't something I was oblivious to.”

Though he has changed positions and has made an impact as a wide receiver, Brackett occasionally misses being a quarterback. But he gets to satisfy that urge sometimes.

“Me and [tight end] Mickey Shuler always do our passing drill after practice,” Brackett said. “Every once in a while, it turns into a long toss.”

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