UNIVERSITY PARK -- Brett Brackett hasn't just enjoyed a career year, he's enjoyed a career in a year.
Brackett entered his senior season best known for being a great leader off the field, which earned him a surprising nod as captain. It was surprising because he had never really done much on the field, making just 17 catches for 189 yards.
No one could have expected the type of breakthrough he's enjoyed this season.
Brackett has more than doubled his career receptions, grabbing 35 to rank second on the team to Derek Moye's 43. Brackett also ranks second on the squad to Moye in receiving yards (474) and touchdowns (five).
There's no way anyone would have considered Brackett a potential NFL player before the season. But now?
"If you're a football player, you want to play in the NFL, no matter what the chances are," Brackett said.
He has increased his chances measurably by showing off his receiving skills, and at 6-foot-6, 246 pounds, it's not out of the question that Brackett could find a home in the NFL as a tight end.
"From my freshman year to now, my desire to play in the NFL is no different," Brackett said. "People's outlook on me playing in the NFL might be changing, may be different, but my want to do that has never changed."
Brackett, who has always been in the spotlight as the president of Penn State's Uplifting Athletes organization, hopes to get a chance to shine for NFL scouts.
"Obviously I'm going to try to see what I can do," he said of a potential pro career.
The big question is whether he can play tight end, which is largely a blocking position in the NFL more so than a primary receiver.
"I'm playing it right now, playing in a slot/tight end role," Brackett said.
He's only gained notoriety on the field as a senior, but Brackett has many more memories of his career at PSU.
"I've loved my five years here," he said.
Aside from Brackett, the player who has made the biggest improvement from last year has been Collin Wagner.
The place-kicker made 15-of-22 field goals in 2009 and struggled from long range, hitting on only 1-of-5 beyond 40 yards. He's been much more reliable this season, hitting 18-of-23 attempts, including 8-of-11 beyond 40 yards.
The senior who probably has seen his stock drop the most this season has been tailback Evan Royster, who got off to a slow start before hitting his stride in recent weeks.
Royster, considered by some to be as high as a second- or third-round draft pick, now will need a great showing at the NFL Combine to come anywhere close to that.
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.