Brian Gaia apparently thinks Gilman School's football uniform doesn't have enough color, so he spends every game trying to add some.
"He's started for us since he was a freshman. I can't remember a game he hasn't come out with blood,'' Greyhounds assistant coach Henry Russell said. "Every game. It's either coming off of his facemask or on his jersey.''
Gaia seems to like the red, white and blue color scheme in high school so much that he's going to try to reproduce it in college.
Gaia, a rugged 6-foot-2, 295-pound lineman, committed to Penn State on Saturday morning, becoming the Nittany Lions' seventh verbal pledge for the class of 2012.
"I just talked with my parents, and coaches and and teammates. They felt it was the best choice, and I did, too,'' said Gaia, a longtime Lion fan who had about 20 scholarship offers and ultimately picked Penn State over Alabama and West Virginia, "so I thought I might as well just pull the trigger and get it over with.''
Many other colleges were recruiting Gaia as an offensive guard. He played offensive tackle on Gilman's unbalanced line and was consensus first-team all-Maryland and first-team Baltimore Sun all-Met selection at the position.
However, Penn State is bringing Gaia in initially as a defensive tackle. He joins New Jersey's Jamil Pollard and New York's Jarron Jones as defensive tackles in this Nittany Lion recruiting class, with the expectation that Penn State will try to add one or two more.
As the Greyhounds' nose guard, Gaia had 13 tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble in 2010.
"He occupies two blockers, and he still makes some plays,'' Russell said.
Gaia said he has no preference on what side of the ball he plays, and Russell, who coaches Gilman's tight ends and linebackers and handles the team's recruiting, thinks he will excel wherever he gets on the field.
The reason is that Gaia's toughness.
"He's a throwback Penn State kid. ... It's a perfect fit,'' Russell said. "He likes to win. He doesn't talk at all. He'll just go out and get the job done. He's relentless.''
It also shows on the wrestling mat, where Gaia, who just took up the sport as a freshman, went out and finished fourth in the state and 30th in the country as a heavyweight. He also has thrown the shot 54 feet and has a maximum bench press of 425 pounds.
"The colleges mostly liked how aggressively I played,'' Gaia said. "I just played nasty, like with an edge on me.''
Gaia thought that came from his upbringing, saying his parents always brought him "to work for everything.''
However, it might not be a coincidence that his favorite team growing up has been the one with which he is planning to sign in February.
"My cousin was a big fan,'' Gaia said. "He's the one who turned me on to football, and I always followed them.''
Penn State began recruiting Gaia at the beginning of his junior year. Gaia attended the Nittany Lions' home finale last season against Michigan State and came back to University Park with his father for an unofficial visit during spring practice.
Gaia also became friends with incoming freshman Lion lineman Donovan Smith during last season.
Penn State is recruiting a couple of Gaia's teammates, running back/safety Kenny Goins and running back/receiver Cyrus Jones. Jones has a scholarship offer.
"I'm going to try to [recruit Jones], but he's a hard one to crack,'' Gaia said. "He's in awe of all those fast SEC schools.''
All three players visited Alabama, but the trip to Tuscaloosa only served as a minor detour on Gaia's way to Happy Valley, where he'll major in either business or sports management.
"It's like a dream come true,'' Gaia said.