Editor's Note: This is the eighth in a series of stories that will profile each of the players in Penn State's Class of 2012.
A two-way athlete at the New Hampton School, Jake Kiley will play corner at Penn State.
Jake Kiley played both ways for the New Hampton School, so he usually got his breathers on kick returns. During one game, though, the team's regular kickoff returner got hurt, so Kiley filled in. He took the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, then trotted to the sideline, expecting some excitement from his head coach.
"The first thing he says was, 'Why didn't you make this cut instead of that one?'" Kiley recalled.
Such is the life of a coach's son.
Kiley, one of 18 Penn State freshmen who will come to State College this month, comes from a coaching family. His father, Ed, played center at Natick High School and at Springfield College, when the school was Division II, and coached Kiley for all four of his seasons at New Hampton. His grandfather, Joe, also a one-time high school coach, came out of retirement to join New Hampton as an assistant this past year.
The coach and the star player under one roof made for some lively discussions at the family dinner table.
"One of the happier days of my life was when I got my driver's license," Kiley said, laughing. "I could drive home in my own car. … Being the coach's son everybody thinks you get perks, but you really don't. He's always that much harder on you."
Kiley came to New Hampton for its basketball tradition, and also played lacrosse, baseball and golf in high school. But it didn't take long until he realized he wanted to play college football at the next level, and made that his focus. And he learned plenty from his father.
"Growing up in a football family, say you try to leave it on the practice field, but when you're going home, you wind up talking about it," Ed Kiley said. "He handled it real well. By the time he was a senior he was almost like a coach offensively. If I screwed up a formation he was able to correct that."
Kiley, who earned league MVP honors as a junior, led New Hampton's offense as a quarterback, but defense is where his football future lies. He started out at a cornerback during his freshman year, switched to safety and then moved back to corner.
"That's what my team needed," Kiley said. "I was always more of a true safety because of my instincts. But after playing corner, I was definitely a lot more aggressive, breaking on the ball, being in on run support, which I really enjoyed."
Kiley hadn't seen much Penn State football while growing up in New England, and he had received interest from schools like Boston College and Connecticut, but no offers, when the Nittany Lions contacted him midway through his junior year.
A visit to campus during the Michigan State week -- "It was Thanksgiving week and a lot of the students weren't there," he said, "but it was still the loudest stadium I've ever been in" -- helped make Penn State the front-runner, and when the staff offered last July, Kiley called UConn, Duke, Maryland and other schools to say he'd made his decision.
Those schools said "Give us a day and we'll give you an offer," but Kiley had made his mind up, committing to Penn State on July 26.
Ed Kiley started fielding calls from other programs after the Sandusky scandal broke, but Jake wasn't interested.
"I didn't want to talk to them," he said. "I thought I owed it to the new staff to talk to them before I made a decision."
After meeting with Bill O'Brien during another official visit, Kiley was sold. He's since been in constant touch with Penn State secondary coach John Butler and cleared his spring sports schedule so he could focus on the weight program sent to him by Craig Fitzgerald. He carries 177 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame and figures he'll add a few more when he gets to campus.
Ed Kiley won't have daily play breakdowns at dinner with his starting quarterback this fall, but he will get to spend the next few years seeing how his son handles the wide receivers of the Big Ten.
"I'll be able to sit back and just watch from a parent's perspective," Ed said, "because I've never done that."