Time to meet the newest Nittany Lions, now that they have sent in their official letters of intent. Over the next 10 weeks, you'll get to know these 19 newest members of the Penn State football program, and we start with the young man that kicked it all off 11 months ago.
Ohio offensive lineman committed to Penn State in mid-March last year, after a visit to State College with his family. Standing 6-5 and weighing in around 300 pounds, Stanko looks to be the type of lineman that could fit into a number of different positions, though after watching his film, he seems set on the interior of the line.
On film, Stanko plays in beast-mode, pushing opposing defenders around seemingly at-will. However, and it's been said before, projecting that in college football is very difficult, much like his position for the future. Where he was able to push first- and second-level defenders off the line may have been easy in northeast Ohio, it will be assuredly more difficult against Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Stanko held a handful of other Division 1 offers before his commitment, including Northwestern, Stanford, and West Virginia, the first two being quite indicative of Stanko's strengths in the classroom. Additionally, after his junior year at Howland High School, Stanko dedicated himself to strength training and conditioning, determined to get his weight down and muscle up. Add Craig Fitzgerald and the new Penn State strength program to Stanko's work ethic, and Stanko could be one heck of a lineman in the future. Given the depth ahead of him, Stanko will almost certainly redshirt in 2012, but he'll start pushing in 2013 for some playing time.
After the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke, Stanko was one of the first to issue a statement, declaring his intent to stand by his commitment to Penn State.
I stand behind my commitment to Penn State. I look forward to the top level of education I will receive at Penn State and am proud of the history and traditions they hold.
With everything that has happened to and around the Penn State program in recent months, Stanko has been constantly supportive, of his school, his classmates, his past and future coaches.
"There was a little bit of sadness after the death and when the whole scandal thing came out, but now that I've had a chance to meet all the coaches, I'm really excited about what's going to happen," said Stanko, who is the sixth Howland football player to move on to the Big Ten in the last 10 years. "It's really sad how coach Paterno had to go out, but there's a really bright future.
"I'm really excited about the future. Coach (Bill) O'Brien and all the coaches he's put in place are really awesome. They're really good people and I think it's going to be a really great experience."