Unionville senior turns down two full rides to play for Nittany Lions

Photo by Fran Maye
Tom Pancoast Jr.will play for the Penn State Nittany Lions this fall.
Photo by Fran Maye Tom Pancoast Jr.will play for the Penn State Nittany Lions this fall.

By Fran Maye


Not too many people would turn down an offer to attend a college on a fully paid scholarship.

Tom Pancoast Jr., a Unionville senior, not only turned down a full ride offer from Bucknell University, he turned down a full ride from Colegate as well.

I bleed blue and white, Pancoast said in explaining his decision to attend Penn State Universitys main campus. Its always been a dream for me to play for Penn State because I am part of a Penn State family.


Pancoasts mother and one of his seven sisters graduated from Penn State; another sister is a sophomore there.

The 6 3, 195-pound Pancoast was recruited as a walk-on to compete for the safety position, and will be on the Penn State roster this spring. Though he will have a spot on the team, he does not get a scholarship. He reports on June 23 and will be taking two summer classes. He said he will be concentrating on strength and conditioning in preparation for football season.

Pancoasts interest in football started in second grade, and by the time he got to C.F. Patton Middle School, he was starting quarterback. At Unionville High, he played both the quarterback and safety positions.

Pancoast, who carries a 3.4 grade-point average as a senior, won awards this year for first-team defense, first team offense, and was the leagues Most Valuable Player. He was also named to southeastern Pennsylvanias first-team safety. That award goes to the best player in high school football at their position.

Im competing for safety only at Penn State, Pancoast said. I was told that I wont play as a freshman. Ill work up to it and hopefully Ill be on the field as a junior or senior. But this year, I may be on special teams.

Because Christian Hackenberg, the top-rated high school quarterback in the country, signed recently with Penn State, Pancoast said his best chance at seeing playing time was at safety.

For now, Pancoast said he will be entering Penn State with an undeclared major. Because his father is in the building industry, he said he is leaning toward the business program at Penn State.

Pancoast said he has been to the Penn State main campus, and was impressed with the tailgating that goes on there prior to home games.

Because of the sanctions against Penn State, Pancoast will have to wait until his senior year there for the school to get a bowl bid.

I know Ill have to earn it at Penn State, Pancoast said. But Im willing to put the time in it will take.