STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) — Dom DeLuca’s love of Penn State started at the White Out against Ohio State in 2005.

“It was a dream of mine to always go there,” DeLuca said. “And “I knew once I got my feet on campus, I was going to make a name for myself.”

Getting to Happy Valley was anything but easy for DeLuca. He’s the youngest of three kids in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. Dom felt he had something to prove from a young age playing with his older brother and his friends.

“I was always with them and just trying to be with them,” DeLuca said of playing with kids three years older than him. “[I wanted to prove] I could play with you guys, too. Like, don’t count me out. I feel like that set my mind set forever. I like having that chip on my shoulder. I don’t think I’m any less than anyone else, I can play with whoever. It really pushed me to where I am now.”

This tough as nails kid never had anything handed to him, tearing his ACL as a senior on the cusp of achieving his Penn State dreams.

“It was hard to get out of that whole ‘am I ever going to play football again?'” DeLuca said. “I actually called Coach Franklin crying after surgery, telling him my career was over. He actually calmed me down and told me I’ll be back bigger, faster, stronger than I was before. So that was also big like push to commit to Penn State as well.”

Rehabbing during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Dom spent what should have been his first semester on Penn State’s campus at a community college as a medical grey shirt. He enrolled in Penn State in January 2021.

“It was kind of surreal at first,” DeLuca said. “I used to dream about this. Now I’m here, but I really just took the opportunity and ran away with it.”

From there, the grind continued. Dom was a preferred walk on; but by the time he graduates, he’s now a captain and earned a scholarship this past off season.

“It’s such a great feeling,” DeLuca said. “I’m very grateful for everyone that put me in, helped me with this and gave me the opportunity to play at the school of my dreams.”

Penn State Football fans will get closer than ever to the team this fall, as abc27 launches Nittany Insiders. Every Saturday, the preview show will break down Penn State’s matchup, feature player’s stories off the field, and focus on NIL progress.

The weekly preview show will be co-hosted by former NFL linebacker and Penn State All-American Michael Mauti and abc27 Sports Director Allie Berube.

Each week Allie and Michael will break down the week’s upcoming game and share what the Nittany Lions will need to focus on for a win. Michael will be able to provide a unique expert analysis from the perspective of a former player.

The show will also feature a player spotlight, features on Lettermen, and content highlighting the program’s NIL efforts to create the most comprehensive Penn State show in the state each and every week.

Nittany Insiders will air every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. starting Saturday, August 26th. The 30-minute shows will feature interviews and insight you can only see on abc27.

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