Waiting Game Over for Colasanti

The senior linebacker is poised to make his first career start in the Penn State football team's 2010 season-opener against YSU.

It is just Youngstown State, just a routine season opener for a Penn State team that figures to face bigger challenges down the line.

But Saturday's game in Beaver Stadium means much more to senior Chris Colasanti, who after three years of waiting will make the first start of his career, at middle linebacker.

He told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning that he is trying not to overthink things, trying not to attach too much significance to the game.

At the same he said, “It's going to be an unreal feeling, running out of the tunnel and knowing I'm going to be out there, making plays.”

He is part of a madeover linebacker corps, one that lost Josh Hull in the middle and Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee on the outside, all of them taken in the NFL draft. Besides Colasanti, the other new starters are listed as Bani Gbadyu and Nate Stupar, though it is expected that the reserves -- Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges on the outside, Michael Yancich in the middle -- will see plenty of action.

When asked if he will appreciate his time on the field a little bit more than the average player, Colasanti did not hesitate.

“I definitely feel that way,” he said. “Waiting three years puts things …”

And here he struggled to find the right words, before finally saying that it underscores “the importance of things.”

“It shows,” he said, “how really important this is, and how blessed I truly am.”

A two-time all-state player from Leonard, Mich., he saw little action in 2007 and '08. And while he would not admit to ever giving thought to a transfer, he did say there were times when he let his mind wander.

“You always think, 'What if, what if,' ” he said.

But Colasanti, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection who to date has fashioned a 3.58 GPA, figured that if nothing else, he would earn his kinesiology degree, then go on to medical school.

One other thing, too: He believes his three years on the bench “definitely made (him) a stronger man.”

“I wouldn't have it any different,” he said. “Penn State's a great school. All the coaches are amazing. … God had another plan.”

So too did those coaches, heading into last season. After Hull beat Colasanti out as the starter in the middle, the hope was that Colasanti could redshirt, and as a result he was held out of the first two games. Then Bowman and Lee were injured, and he was pressed into service as a backup.

“I was disappointed,” Colasanti said, before saying again that God had other plans for him.

“There were moments,” he added, “I was upset. But in the whole scheme of things I'm playing college football. I'm at a great school. I have this year to make things happen, and I'm going to take full advantage of it.”

He wound up with 18 tackles last season, and has just 37 for his career. And on Tuesday, somebody wondered if there is now pressure on him.

He said there is not.

“I'm looking forward to the opportunity,” he said. “I've been waiting three years for this opportunity. It's not really pressure. My goal is finally coming true.”

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