A regular on the Beaver Stadium sideline this fall, Austin Fiedler has built a pretty good relationship with Mac McWhorter. The easy spoken Nittany Lion offensive line guru is a coach Fiedler found he could trust with everyday things.
And as of Monday, he'll trust him with the next four years of his life, too. The Warrior Run High (Turbotville, Pa.) senior joined a host of other Pennsylvania prospects Monday in committing to run-on at Penn State, ending a recruitment that was down to the Nittany Lions and Division II Bloomsburg.
I made the visit for the Run On Day [Jan. 20], and finally went there with my family and got to see everything, Fiedler said. I called Coach Mac a couple days after the visit because my family and I had some questions about how the whole process would go. We pretty much sat down, put the phone on speaker, and got all our questions answered. After that, I was ready to go.
Sitting at 18-4 in his final season of interscholastic wrestling, Fiedler was relieved when his acceptance to Penn State effectively put an end to the recruiting process. It allowed him to focus strictly on working toward the District 4 tournament, and hopefully, the PIAA state tournament, as well.
I'm very glad I started wrestling, because it helped me a lot with learning how to control my body, Fiedler said. Sometimes, it's hard for bigger kids to get used to handling their body, but wrestling helped me do that. It's also good for the footwork and the things like hand fighting. A lot of it goes hand in hand with football.
The senior first experienced Penn State after his sophomore season, when he camped at University Park under the former staff. He enjoyed it so much that he decided he'd camp again, this time under the new staff, and immediately established a relationship with McWhorter.
I was up there a lot this season, so I have a pretty good relationship with Coach Mac, Fiedler said. The coaches at Penn State were the biggest attraction to me; they were very important. They are all very friendly and always are looking out for the best for you and want you to do your best.
The best for Fiedler, though, is accomplishing his dream of playing at a big-time program. He's unsure of the history, but knows that few, if any players that have come before him at Warrior Run have had the opportunity to don the blue and white.
Ever since I started playing football in eighth grade, it's been my dream to go to one of the top ten schools in the country, Fiedler said. Just to be a part of Penn State, and the Penn State pride; I could have had some [scholarship] money on the table from Bloomsburg, but looking at it from an education stand point, Penn State has many more options. And they have the Penn State family, too.
And it's there that the 6-foot-6, 285-pound offensive tackle hopes to flourish.
I like playing on the offensive line, because I like knowing what I have to do, Fiedler said. That's compared to a defensive tackle, who kind of has to react in the moment. I like knowing what everyone on my side of the ball is doing, and grinding out three yards at a time.