Editor's Note: Run-ons are taking on increasingly important roles with Penn State's program as the Nittany Lions deal with scholarship restrictions. Over the next few weeks, Lions247 will profile several of the new arrivals.
Ammerman lined up all over the field during different points in his career at Malvern Prep.
Penn State's coaching staff loves players capable of stepping in at different spots.
Ryan Ammerman already has plenty of practice at doing just that.
The Nittany Lions' run-on freshman linebacker played wide receiver, tight end and safety as well as linebacker during a standout career at Malvern Prep.
"He was never afraid to go play the game and be physical while playing it," said Malvern Prep coach Kevin Pellegrini. "He was a real hungry player and wanted to be involved in as many plays as possible."
Pellegrini made sure to put the ball in Ammerman's hands on offense -- he had seven catches from the tight end spot in an early game of the 2012 season -- but he made plays on his own on the defensive side of the ball, even, in some cases, when he didn't seem to be in position to make a play.
Pellegrini remembered one play late in a game against the Haverford School in which Ammerman showed his ability and his desire and helped keep his team in a tight game in the process.
"He pretty much was headed in one direction, had to plant, and then run down a guy, in a huge fourth quarter for us where we needed to get the ball back," Pellegrini said. "He was able to catch the guy and then hold him to no yardage or a yard gain. It showed his straight-out athletic ability and his speed. You could see his closing ability there. He knew we needed to make a stop there and get the ball back."
Ammerman had offers from some FCS schools and was receiving some interest from Syracuse. Penn State was interested, too, and talked to him about joining the squad as a preferred run-on.
"I think for Ryan, whether there were sanctions or not, there's an aura of Penn State football and what it represents," Pellegrini said. "I think it was his belief in himself that that's the level he wants to play at. He was more about the possibilities to earn the right to play at that level, as opposed to playing at a I-AA. It was just a dream of his and he was going to do whatever it took to get to that level."
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Ammerman isn't as physically developed at this point as many of Penn State's linebackers, including some of the other run-on freshmen, and he'll likely need some time to get used to a position he didn't primarily play in high school. But his former coach is confident the Nittany Lions will find a role for him.
"He's the kind of kid that will do anything the coaches ask," Pellegrini said. "When you're trying to make your way at a place like Penn State, which is full of great players, you've got to be able to do anything you can to get on the field. And I think if a coach asks him to do different things and play different spots he'll be jumping up and ready to do them."