In Focus: Stefen Wisniewski

With spring practice in the home stretch, we provide another exclusive spring progress report on a key player for Penn State's 2008 campaign. This time we review the sophomore right guard.


Stefen Wisniewski, OG (6-foot-3, 288 pounds)

Few offensive linemen in recent PSU history have stepped on campus and made an early impact like Stefen Wisniewski has. Last season Wisniewski saw action is eight games. In fact, Wisniewski moved into a starting role when Mike Lucian and John Shaw were recovering from injuries.

Early on in his career many practice observers had Wisniewski pegged to handle the center position (behind A.Q. Shipley), and he did see some practice reps there last fall. However, he has focused on the right guard position since the end of last season and as of the April 5 practice, started to "take over the [right] guard position from Lucian."


Approach: Described as "intense" and "aggressive," Wisniewski is a "quiet guy who can flip the mean streak switch when he suits up." As one observer said, "He is intensely competitive and has shown he isn't afraid of locking horns with anyone." In fact, the coaches have been especially impressed with his ability to take on first-team defensive tackles in drills, athletes like Abe Koroma. "They've run dummy drills where the [defensive lineman] has to get to the tackling dummy with the offensive [lineman] in his way. It's a real challenge for the offensive guys, but Wiz has held his own against Koroma and [Ollie] Ogbu. When he gets beat he almost takes it personally and asks for a rematch."

Build: Observers like Wisniewski's "lean" build and feel that "he carries his 288 pounds well on his frame." He has good upper-body strength and has been working on strengthening his back and legs to "help him dig in and pick up leverage."

Mobility: His agility is pointed to as a major factor for his progression to the first-team unit. "He's light on his feel and really gets on his toes. He's quick to come out of his stance and has been disciplined to maintain his form, which is a challenge for most linemen." Following the recent Coaches Clinic Scrimmage, Wisniewski nearly lapped several other offensive linemen while running sprints.

Technique: "Stef's came in with a good set of fundamentals — he knows how to set a base and use his hands to offset his assignment. If there is one area he has worked on it's keeping his stance low to handle the initial surge off the snap," an observer explained.

Improvement: Aside from lowering his stance and strengthening his back and legs, Wisniewski has been working on his communication and "free-space assignments," like matching up on a pull or role. According to one observer, "It's not easy on a pull for you to come across the back of the line, find your assignment, set a block and hold it in like three seconds."

Impact: Wisniewski is already making one. At first-team right guard he "adds a tremendous foundation with Q [Shipley] and Rich [Ohrnberger]." Several observers have been surprised to see such a young lineman make an early impact. As one said, "It's a rare thing for [PSU], but if they could replicate it, it would transform this line." Wisniewski has also seen long-snapping work, but at this stage it does not look like a role he will fill this season.

Stay tuned to for continuing exclusive, original coverage of Penn State football and spring practice.


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