Making an Impact
Four men. Four lives in football. Four futures still left to play.
(page 4 of 9)
From Little Ol’ Sallies to PSU
He’s 6-feet-6, 260 pounds. About two ax handles wide at the shoulders. Narrow waist. Body fat, 8 percent. Big, beefy hands, hands meant to catch a football—or pound one into a linebacker’s chest. Runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. Smart and dedicated.
Andrew Szczerba would seem to be the quintessential college tight end. That he is third on the depth chart at Penn State speaks volumes about the level of talent coach Joe Paterno has corralled in Happy Valley.
In 2007 Szczerba was Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year and ranked 25th in the nation among all schoolboy tight ends. Recruited by several schools, he enjoyed the attention—at first.
“In the beginning, it was exciting,” he says. “It was pretty cool having big-time coaches come to your high school. Towards the end, though, it got a little bit stressful, with constant emails and mail and having to return calls to coaches. One of the toughest things was making the trip to all those schools. That can be a long weekend. You don’t really have any downtime. You’re constantly seeing everything the campus has to offer. That can be exhausting.”
His advice to high school recruits: It’s the guys you’re going to play alongside, not the coaches, who are important.
“Obviously you’re going to like all the coaches because they’re going to be as nice as they can be to get you there,” he says. “Go somewhere where you feel a connection to the players, because those are the guys you’re going to be around every day all year round. You’re waking up with them at 5 a.m. and walking over to workouts with them. And during the game, you’re on the field with them. The coaches are on the sidelines.”
Szczerba says some high school prospects spend too much time in the weight room, not enough on the treadmill or track. “What’s hard to motivate yourself to do and what helps you out the most is being physically fit—the running.”
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