When his first season with the University of Nebraska-Omaha came to an end in March, Jayson Megna was faced with a difficult choice.
Should he come back for his sophomore season or turn pro?
"It was a very tough decision because my brother was there, I made a lot of friends there. You feel safe, secure," Megna said. "But being a pro hockey player is something I dreamed about since I was a little kid."
Megna, 22, chose to follow his dream, but not initially.
He admits considering turning pro immediately after his college season ended, but after talking to coaches and friends, he decided to return.
"I trusted the people and the coaches that were there who told me to come back," Megna said.
Soon after the people he trusted moved to other positions and things changed, including Megna's mind.
"I re-evaluated my decision after I attended Pittsburgh's development camp (in July). I used it as a bit of a measuring stick, but in the end, the biggest deciding factor was myself," he said. "Are you confident enough in your game and yourself to turn pro?"
Megna's confidence was buoyed the number of teams that showed interest after his 31-point campaign at Nebraska-Omaha, where he was the third-leading scorer. In addition to Pittsburgh, Boston and Winnipeg also reportedly expressed interest in the young forward.
In August, he signed a two-year entry level deal with Pittsburgh.
"Being a pro is exciting and at the same time a little bit scary," Megna said. "You're in the pro world now. If you're successful, you make yourself look smart. If you have a slow start, you make other people look smart.
"But there's no turning back and you can't second guess your decision."
Two years after he was taken by Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2010 draft, Beau Bennett faced a similar choice as Megna.
The 20-year-old forward logged two seasons with the University of Denver – the second of which was limited to 10 games, thanks to a lingering wrist injury.
At the time of the injury – which required surgery, Bennett registered 13 points in 10 games and was the team's rising star.
It was a crushing blow to a once promising sophomore season.
"When the injury first happened I didn't go to the rink. I couldn't watch practice or anything for a month-and-a-half," Bennett said. "I was so frustrated."
But the disappointment was later overshadowed by opportunity when Bennett decided to sign a three-year deal with Pittsburgh and turn pro.
Like Megna, Bennett's choice to leave college early wasn't easy.
"It was tough coming off a season where I only played 10 games, and weighing the options with family and friends," he said. "But at the end of the day, I felt good about my decision. I made it with conviction."
Bennett and Megna have been spending the days working out with other Penguins players at Coal Street in anticipation of the start of training camp.
For Bennett, who hasn't played since Dec. 2 of last year, the season can't start soon enough.
"I'm dying for camp to start. I just want to play a game again," he said. "I made the decision to be a full-time hockey player, and that's my main focus now."
Megna views the start of training camp as a chance to put to rest any doubts surrounding his decision to leave college early.
"I made a very tough decision, but I can't think about that now," Megna said. "I can't worry about what other people are saying. I have to put it all behind me and focus on my game."