Penn State offensive lineman Gerald Cadogan, right, laughs it up with teammates A.Q. Shipley, left, and Rich Ohrnberger during media day. Says teammate
Penn State offensive lineman Gerald Cadogan, right, laughs it up with teammates A.Q. Shipley, left, and Rich Ohrnberger during media day. Says teammate Deon Butler: 'The girls love him because he's a teddy bear. Guys like him because he's just an honest guy who's going to be himself.'
(Daily Record/Sunday News - Kate Penn)

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STATE COLLEGE -- The mountain walked slowly onto the practice field in Holuba Hall, through a sea of teammates and reporters.

The mountain was singing.

And he was smiling.

It was the beginning of Penn State's August football workouts and Gerald Cadogan, all 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds of him, was caught indulging in his first love, maybe his greatest love: music.

Of course, football is important, too. The senior from Ohio plays one of the most critical positions on the offensive line, maybe on the entire team.

Gerald Cadogan will hold down the crucial left tackle position for head coach Joe Paterno in the icon’s 43rd season at the helm.
Gerald Cadogan will hold down the crucial left tackle position for head coach Joe Paterno in the icon's 43rd season at the helm.
(Daily Record/Sunday News - Kate Penn)
He protects the blind side of the quarterback and will help anchor what many believe will be the Nittany Lions' best offensive line since that magical season in 1994.

The best left tackle in the Big Ten?

Maybe. This, though, is for sure: Cadogan boasts the team's best singing voice and is the Nittany Lions' most complete Renaissance man in years.

Certainly, he's one of its most intriguing.

He is a trumpet-playing, gospel-singing, dinner party-hosting, former captain of his high school swim team.

He volunteers at homeless shelters and counsels teenagers and has already released two CDs, featuring his rich, mellow tenor voice.

He's earned a 3.67 grade point average, a double major in psychology and rehabilitation services.

He seems too warm and fuzzy to even play college football.

Meet a most irreplaceable, most unusual mountain.

"He played left tackle for our (high school) team, and I don't recall anyone getting past him -- and he's like that in real life," said lifelong hometown friend Matt Payton. "He's got a group of friends and he protects them. If anyone ever tried to do or say anything he's right there. He just looks over a lot of people."

"I'm telling you," said Tim Fausnaught, a Williamsport middle school principal who met Cadogan at a Bible study, "the guy has a bigger heart than anybody else."

* * *

There was a time when the mountain was as interested in the marching band and the swim team as he was in blocking defenders.

Consider that he started singing in the church choir at age 4 or 5. How couldn't he? His entire family regularly breaks into song around the house.

"Just like when we're cleaning or doing chores, we just start singing a song and everybody would join in and it would just make you feel good," said younger brother, Nate, another offensive lineman who will begin his career at Penn State in the fall.

Gerald Cadogan sings the national anthem during a State College rally for presidential candidate Barack Obama earlier this year. Cadogan has released two
Gerald Cadogan sings the national anthem during a State College rally for presidential candidate Barack Obama earlier this year. Cadogan has released two CDs of gospel music. (Photo courtesy of fightonstate.com)
"If you feel bad you start singing, if you're tired you start singing ..."

Big brother then learned to play one instrument after another, from the trombone to the piano to the guitar to the drums ... to the oboe and even the euphonia, which is a small tuba.

During halftime of his high school games, Cadogan grabbed his trumpet and played with the marching band while wearing his football uniform. A few years later he came back to Portsmouth, Ohio, to sing at the wedding of his former offensive line coach. He even conducted the Penn State Blue-Band for a bit after a home victory last season.

He talks about "jam sessions" at his apartment with tight end Andrew Quarless, who is an amateur rapper.

Gerald Cadogan has released two CDs of gospel music.
Gerald Cadogan has released two CDs of gospel music. (Submitted)

Singing four years of high school choir led to him release two gospel/rhythm and blues CDs and even produce some music for others in his apartment "studio."

He also sang the National Anthem at a State College rally last spring for presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"He's a fabulous leader," said Sally Gower, his high school music teacher. "He's one of those people who knows what job needs to be done and knows how to make his peers motivated to do what needs to be done."

It would seem that music and football and school work should be more than enough. But Cadogan also helps kids with learning disabilities and spends time at the homeless shelter his mother runs. There, he wraps Christmas gifts and gives out food and clothes and sometimes just signs a few autographs and sits and chats with those who stop by for help.

He's also a promising cook, often having friends over for one of his pork chop dinners.

His swimming career, though, does appear to be over. Cadogan laughs and pokes fun at himself -- high school teammates playfully called him, "Shamu."

"For the record I did not wear a Speedo," he said, cracking up. "I wore Jammers."

His brother described his swimming, "like a bear going upstream."

Of course, football is what brought Cadogan to Penn State in the first place.

He was an all-state selection in high school and received plenty of big-time scholarship offers -- except for the one he wanted badly, if for nothing more than respect. He never did get that offer from Ohio State.

So he picked Penn State, waited his turn and then had to endure being switched to guard in 2006 because the line needed him there. He struggled at times, his long arms and quickness not suited best for the road-grading, run-blocking expertise of the position.

He was moved back to tackle last year and started all 13 games.

On the outside of the line he can use his athleticism and agility and power to fend off pass rushers. Now, he has a chance to truly turn heads in the league.

Left tackle "is the most important position in football," said center A.Q. Shipley. "If (right tackle) Dennis (Landolt) gets beat or we get beat the quarterback can see it. He can't see if Gerald gets beat. That would be 280, 300 pounds coming at you running a 4.5 (speed). It ain't going to feel too good.

"He knows he's got the most important position in football."

This is the type of player Joe Paterno raved about when he began his "Grand Experiment" four decades ago.

The coach promised that he could compete for national titles with football players who also were vested in academics, community service and even the arts.

This is what Paterno said when he made a recruiting visit to Cadogan's high school five years ago: "It is not just football that has made Gerald Cadogan the man he is today."

Five years later, Cadogan continues to grow.

"He is truly who you want at Penn State," said Jay Paterno, the Lions' quarterbacks coach. "That's Joe's ideal."

Cadogan said music, school and volunteering balance his life, giving him places to recharge from football.

"The girls love him because he's a teddy bear," said teammate Deon Butler. "Guys like him because he's just an honest guy who's going to be himself."

And kids?

Fausnaught talks about how his children adore him, especially how his two girls, ages 4 and 6, "run to him" to play. "They hardly even know he plays football."

The thing is, the mountain is rather anonymous outside of team circles. He is a soft-spoken, non-controversial player at a non-glory position.

So he won't bring up how his club feet were so bad as a baby that he had to wear casts for a couple of months and then sleep in special shoes for a year.

He won't mention his civility on the field, so as not to sound like he's preaching. "Rather than raving and fussing and cussing at you he'll just get the job done and maybe call you a marshmallow or something," his brother said.

In some ways, he makes his biggest impact away from the football field.

"One of the best people I know, he's that type of guy," said Curt Clifford, his high school coach. "He has a genuine concern for everybody around him.

"You never worry about where he'll be on Sunday morning after a ball game because you know he'll be in church."

The most unusual Nittany Lion always seems to be stretching himself, whether he's talking about the finer points of line play with former teammate Matt Rice or checking out a symphony concert for the first time or simply finding someone else to take care of.

The best tackle with the biggest heart?

"Growing up he was always the 'watcher' or the 'guardian' or the 'babysitter,'" his brother said. "He was always looking out for us.

"Growing up he taught me how to be humble and to appreciate things for what they are. If it wasn't for him I don't know what I'd be like right now."

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