Joe Calcagno has not stepped on the football field for Penn State and might only get a passing glance if he sees it at all during this, his redshirt junior season. The 6-foot-tall and 293 pound long snapper out of Elmhurst, Illinois has contributed off the field, as so many players that don’t get to share the limelight often do.
In September Calcagno was featured in a Big Ten Network segment for his abilities to cook brisket.
Opening acts for comedians or musicians on tour don’t always have to be the best performers to be chosen by the headliner as the opening act. A lot of time is spent together, traveling from one location to the next, so it is important that the supporting cast are ‘good hangs.’ People that you would want to hang out with during your down time.
Joe Calcagno appears to be a very good hang. I had a friend while I was at Penn State during the early 1990’s that liked to make beef jerky from scratch. He could turn a few piles of quarters and dimes, anything that we could find, into a mound of meat. Sure, it took a while, but to a bunch of mostly-starving college kids, it was as though he was a magician.
The beef jerky fairy that I knew was merely a student, not a student-athlete like Joe Calcagno. The term athlete-student would be more applicable to some players that skate by in the classroom just to stay eligible to compete on the field. The opposite is true for Calcagno. While he may never see the field, he has been an All-Big Ten Academic selection for the past two years. If he stays for his redshirt senior season, and has a solid year in the classroom in the coming semesters, he may get that honor for four years.
That would be an amazing accomplishment, something that we as fans of the team could appreciate. We hope that the young men that represent the university and its fan base will also be a good example for the institution and the people associated with it.
We will follow his progress and let you know how he does. Should he decide to take his talent to the professional ranks after this season, it is probably because his options off the field are many. They should be. Anyone that is as motivated in the classroom as he is would be a great hire and also a potential leader of his own enterprise.
Plus there would be lots of brisket. As a kinesiology major, a career in sports will be a possible path in the coming years. His experience as a football player, though not one that has made a major impact on the field, will certainly help open doors. It would be like being a patient in a hospital for four or five years before becoming a healthcare worker. He has been in the midst of athletic trainers, at the highest level of competition, as he aces exams in his schoolwork.
Good for you, Joe! Keep snapping the ball well and even if you don’t get a game rep, you will be making the team better during practice.
Just 94 more days until kickoff!