Four-star offensive lineman Brendan Mahon of Randolph, N.J., has had a lot more to deal with recently than most top recruits.
After committing to Penn State back in March, he faces constant questions regarding the school's NCAA sanctions. Yet for now he can focus on something else. On Friday, the top lineman was able to receive his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey.
"When I was invited I was beyond thrilled," said Mahon, who stands 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. "I worked so hard for it, and it was always something I wanted to do. I really pushed myself and went to all of the extra combines so that I can could it. I was very excited."
Mahon had wanted to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for quite some time, and his time at the U.S. Army All-American Combine back in January in San Antonio only further solidified these thoughts.
"It absolutely made me want to play in the game," he said. "There is nothing better than competing against the best in the country, and I think I can hang at that level. It's a great accomplishment, and I have a chance to prove myself."
Since Mahon accepted his invitation several months ago, he had been anticipating the day that he would finally receive his official game jersey.
"I've been excited and I've been waiting for this," he said. "I've been working very hard for this. I was thrilled to get the jersey. It's a very emotional day."
Now with the jersey in his possession, Mahon can turn his attention to the actual game.
"I just want to play to the best of my ability, because everyone else is going in the same way," he said. "I hope all of the hard work pays off."
Mahon will also have the advantage of making the trip to San Antonio with his good friend and future teammate at Penn State, Garrett Sickels.
"I was actually with him on Saturday and we talked about it," he said. "We're both really excited. It'll be a good thing to experience together. Our families have also become very close, so it will be fun."
Mahon will also use the game as an opportunity to prove to everyone that New Jersey produces some of the top talent in the country.
"Jersey definitely produces top notch kids, just like all of the states in the South," he said. "Jersey can produce kids that are just as good, if not better."
As would be expected, Mahon's family is also ready for this opportunity.
"They're really excited for me," he said. "They've seen me work very hard and they've seen how much I put into the sport. They're happy that it's a reality now."
Now in the midst of his senior season, Mahon has often been asked about his future regarding his commitment to Penn State. While other previously committed players have had a change of mind and moved on, Mahon is part of what seems to be a very strong nucleus of commitments who have maintained
their loyalty to the Nittany Lions.
"I'm 100 percent committed to Penn State," said Mahon.
In order to further strengthen his ties at Penn State, Mahon has made it a point to take several visits.
"I went to the opener, which was great," he said. "I'm hoping to make another visit, probably in the next month. I'm trying to get up there as much as possible. I'm also looking forward to my official visit, but that will be sometime after both the Penn State and Randolph season are over."
On the field this fall, Mahon is excited about the possibilities for his team.
"We're 2-1 right now," he said. "I'll be happy if we make it to the state championship game and win. But we're taking it one game at a time. I know my pass blocking has gotten much better. I'm taking it one step at a time and improving on everything."
Mahon will be a part of the East team that will take on the West in the 13th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 5.