By Jon Moffett
As a standout on the Howland High offensive line, Anthony Stanko is kind of used to letting others get all the attention for his work.
But then again, he’s perfectly fine with that. The junior prefers to just keep his head up, mouth shut and go to work. Well, he’d better get used to the spotlight.
Stanko becomes the first area prospect to make his future football intentions known. On Monday, the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder announced his intentions to play at Penn State University in 2012 under legendary coach Joe Paterno.
Stanko said his mind was made up after he visited the campus and talked with the coaches.
“Coming into it, I was pretty sure that I wanted to go there, but I wanted to find out about the coaches and what they were about and find out if it was the right fit for me,” Stanko said. “Academics is a big thing for me.
“I really like that they graduate [so many] players. And from an athletic standpoint, they’re a great team. And to play for a legend like Joe Paterno is going to be a great thing.”
Stanko said he was recruited by the Nittany Lions as an offensive lineman and not with any particular position in mind. He played both guard and tackle spots for the Tigers, who enjoyed an undefeated regular season last year.
Howland head coach Dick Angle said with Stanko’s approach to the game, it’s no wonder a major college program had the block of granite on its radar.
“He’s pretty seasoned, and a hard-working kid,” Angle said. “He’s great in the weight room. He does all the things you have to do to go to the next level and to play at the next level the way we want him to.
“He has a great love for the game of football,” Angle said. “He’s got a great love for his family and I think the idea of playing three hours down the road really hit home for him.”
Stanko said the school really sold itself. The No. 1 priority, he said, was a coaching staff that believed in the same things as he and his family. The biggest of those concerns was the idea of a student-athlete being just that: a student first.
And then there’s football.
Angle said Stanko is one of just two four-year starters along the offensive line he’s coached while with the school. The other was former Ohio State standout and NFL draftee Doug Datish.
Stanko said it’s certainly nice company. But to him, it’s all business.
“That’s a great honor to be mentioned in that category with Doug. But I’m not really an emotional guy,” Stanko said. “Being committed to Penn State was great because now I’m able to concentrate on academics and getting better. But it’s certainly a huge honor to be mentioned with a guy like Doug.”
Stanko said he’s lost about 30 pounds — he’s down to 290 after eating strictly chicken and turkey — from his playing weight. He hopes it will improves his speed and lateral movement.
But the brute strength is nice, too.
“It’s just awesome to be able to push a grown person against their will really as far as you want to,” he said with a laugh.