Kyle Baublitz decided to make his mother's birthday a little more memorable by picking a college where he'd attend and play football.
"I wanted to make it special,'' Baublitz said.
In doing so, Baublitz also gave a gift to the Penn State football program and its fans when the Central York star gave the Nittany Lions their eighth verbal commitment for their 2010 recruiting class.
A middle linebacker in high school racking up 166 tackles as a junior whose is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 5 tight end and No. 131 prospect in the country, the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Baublitz expects to play defensive end in college. He had 20 written offers, and eventually chose Penn State over Pitt and Virginia.
"It was close to home, and I liked the coaching staff. Coach [Larry] Johnson is awesome,'' said Baublitz on his reasons for picking Penn State. "It felt like home. I felt really comfortable there.''
Baublitz was at the Blue-White game this spring and came to University Park for the Michigan and Illinois games last season.
Word had not reached Mansion Park, where the West team is practicing for this week's PSFCA East West All-Star Game, until Monday afternoon. Trinity receiver Christian Kuntz, who has signed with the Nittany Lions, was excited when he heard. West assistant Ron Miller is very familiar with Baublitz, having coached against him the last two years at West York.
"Obviously, he's an extremely gifted athlete, and, for his size, physically, he's just monstrous. He runs sideline to sideline pretty well for his size. We know where he's at all the time. Put it that way,'' Miller said. "He made a couple plays on us on the corner last year. I felt we had a pretty good running back, and he caught him.
"He just has a presence on the field.''
Central York coach Brad Livingston believes playing with his hand on the ground is in Baublitz's best longterm interest but has put him in the middle of his defense so opposing teams couldn't run away from him. Baublitz said his two favorite NFL players are Brian Urlacher and James Harrison.
"He was an all-league middle linebacker as a freshman. He never acted like a freshman,'' Livingston said. "One thing that's great about him is you would never know he was being so highly recruited. He's pretty humble.''
Livingston knows Baublitz very well - in the spring, he coaches him in volleyball, too. Baublitz is an outside hitter on the Panthers' state-qualifying team.
"It's my fun sport, and it keeps me in shape,'' Baublitz said of volleyball. "It helps my agility. Every year, I've improved my vertical jump.''
Baublitz got into football by following in the footsteps of his older brother, Nate, and plans to study education to become a teacher like his father. In his free time, he likes to swim and go golfing with his dad.
"I don't play, though. I'll be my dad's caddy,'' Baublitz said. "I like driving the cart.''
Penn State is expected to sign approximately 18 recruits in its 2010 class.