Starting out at the Gilman School in Maryland, Brian Gaia was a three-time all-state selection who was a captain of both the offensive and defensive lines who helped lead his team to three Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A titles. Recruited by then defensive coach Larry Johnson, and one of the members of Bill O’Brien’s first Penn State team, Gaia assumed he’d play for the Nittany Lions on the defensive line.
Gaia did indeed start his redshirt freshman season in 2013, playing in all 12 games at defensive tackle and special teams. After being recognized by the Penn State coaching staff during spring ball in 2014, he was named the recipient of the Red Worrell Award, given to the offense’s most improved player.
In 2014, with the arrival of head coach James Franklin, and with a need for experience on the offensive line, Gaia moved to right offensive guard, starting every game in that spot as a sophomore. 2015 brought Gaia 13 starts in 13 games, making him the only Penn State offensive lineman to start every game that year.
For his final 2016 season, Gaia was named captain and made yet another move to center, a position he’d never played. As it turned out, Brian Gaia was the only thing that remained consistent on the offensive line in 2016, and the only offensive line player to play in the same position the entire 2016 season. With a dearth of injuries and inexperienced players filling slots midway through the fall, Gaia kept the offensive line together and focused, enabling Trace McSorely, Saquon Barkley and Chris Godwin to pull off record-breaking offensive performances in the Big Ten Championship game.
In Brian Gaia’s final game at the Rose Bowl, he finished having made more starts than any Penn State teammate.
What You’re Getting
You’re getting a leader and stabilizing force on and off the field, who has a willingness and ability to be versatile and slide into positions where he’s most needed.
Gaia has made it clear he wants to remain in the center position, and is hoping to get noticed. At 6’3”, 295, he’s not the biggest or fastest, but makes up for it in leadership. That said, it’s not certain if that versatility and leadership will translate into the NFL.