Brent Wilkerson had a dream of history repeating itself and made it come true.
Kermit Buggs' father, Joseph, coached Wilkerson's father in high school a couple of decades ago in Smithfield, Va. So, when Wilkerson's favorite college football team growing up, Penn State, offered him a scholarship, the fact that the younger Buggs will be one of his coaches just made it all the more an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"I've known Coach Buggs and his father for a long time. That's how I really got started going to Penn State,'' said Wilkerson, who's been coming to Nittany Lion football camps since he was in eighth grade. "It's always been a dream school for me. I've always watched them. I'm really excited about playing there.''
Wilkerson, a highly-rated 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end/defensive end from DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., became the third 2012 prospect to give the Nittany Lions a verbal commitment while visiting University Park with about 20 other players over the weekend.
Wilkerson had approximately 20 scholarship offers. He chose Penn State over Virginia, Rutgers, Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina and Clemson.
Wilkerson's pledge caught a lot of people off-guard, including Wilkerson himself.
"I wasn't planning to commit. I was just planning to come up there and see the offense and stuff like that,'' Wilkerson said. "But, once I talked to Coach [Bill] Kenney, Coach [Larry] Johnson, Coach Buggs and Coach [Joe] Paterno, I felt very comfortable up there. I felt it was the best fit for me. I felt so comfortable with the coaches and liked the facilities that I could see myself living up there the next four to five years.
"I liked what Coach Kenney was talking to me about. That probably did it right there.''
Kenney coaches the Nittany Lion tight ends. Wilkerson is a jumbo athlete different colleges were recruiting at different positions, but Penn State is bringing him in initially for offense: The Lions only have two underclassman tight ends on scholarship and are looking to sign as many as three in this class.
"I'll be coming in at tight end first, because that's where they really need me,'' Wilkerson said. "But Coach Johnson, my recruiting coordinator, told me to come in and be ready to play both, because you never know. They saw my versatility, and they liked me as a tight end.''
Wilkerson split time with 2011 Pitt recruit Sam Collura as DeMatha's tight end as a junior, catching eight passes for 186 yards. Wilkerson started full-time on defense for Bill McGregor's Stags, who finished 9-3.
"Bringing him in is a no-brainer. He can play one position, and, if that doesn't work out, he can move to another. He also could evolve into an H-Back,'' McGregor said. "He's very athletic. He's played basketball as well as football at DeMatha. He's athletic enough to be a good tight end. He has good hands, can run and jump and works out continuously.''
McGregor should know. The uncle of Penn State walk-on and former Central Cambria High School quarterback Shane McGregor, he is the author of nearly 300 wins in 29 seasons before stepping down as DeMatha's coach on Monday and has sent numerous players on to play big-time college football, including former Nittany Lion and current Miami Dolphin pass rush specialist Cameron (formerly Derek) Wake.
"Brent's a great young man. We're excited to finally be sending another player to Penn State.'' McGregor said. "We thought he could be pretty good when he came here. A lot is going to depend on how hard you work, and he did. His dad is actually a personal trainer, so working out is part of his routine.
"He's a complete package.''
Wilkerson's only been playing football for four years, picking up the sport when a youth coach saw him playing baseball and talked him into coming out. After one year, he said he was being heavily recruited by several of the top private schools in suburban Washington, D.C.
"All the [college] coaches told me they liked my versatility,'' Wilkerson said. "They said, if I come in ready, I can play as a freshman. So, I'm going to work hard and be ready. That was a big thing for me.''