Astorino Anxious for Action

The "veteran" of Penn State's rebuilt secondary says the new group is ready to prove itself starting this week against Akron.

Drew Astorino was so lightly recruited as a high school football player that he and his father sent out 100 highlight tapes to various college football programs.

It took work on his part. He and his coach at General McLane High in Edinboro, Pa., Jim Wells, went online to find the addresses of any Division I or Division I-AA football teams in the region. Then they mailed all the tapes. Initially, the effort went for naught.

However, during his senior season (2006), an offer finally came, from Kent State. But the Golden Flashes said he had only four days to make his decision before they would give the scholarship to someone else. So he committed to Kent State, even though his heart was really somewhere else.

The somewhere else -- Penn State -- eventually offered a scholarship, too, and Astorino quickly changed his mind. He signed with the Nittany Lions in February of 2007.

Now, the redshirt sophomore is the most experienced member of the Penn State secondary, with a grand total of three career starts to his name.

When Penn State opens its 2009 season against Akron at noon Saturday, Astorino will join fifth-year senior Knowledge Timmons, sophomore D'Anton Lynn and redshirt sophomore Nick Sukay in the Nittany Lions' secondary.

However, the inexperience in the secondary excites the free safety.

“I wouldn't say [the inexperience] worries me at all,” Astorino said. “I would say [I'm] more anxious. … We've made a lot of progress. We're doing well with working [together]. It's time to show what we've been working for on Saturday.”

One of the reasons Astorino feels that way is because of the competition he has gone against in practice.

He raved about this year's crop of receivers, which along with the secondary and offensive line, sports many new faces in key roles.

Derek Moye has been playing really good. … And then of course, there's Graham Zug. I feel like can have a huge year for us,” he said.

Three of the four starters in this year's secondary saw various playing time last season. Timmons has been in the mix since 2006.

But the other starter, Sukay, has yet to see the field since arriving at Penn State in 2007. He took a redshirt that year then missed all of 2008 with a foot injury.

Saturday marks the first time Sukay will play in an actual game since his senior year at Greensburg (Pa.) Central Catholic High.

Ironically, Sukay came out of high school the same year as Astorino, but at the time was a four-star prospect with offers from powerhouses like Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan and West Virginia.

While Astorino has exceeded all expectations since arriving on campus, he thinks Sukay is about to start living up to the hype that surrounded him a few years ago.

“It is a little different on the field,” Astorino said of Sukay seeing his first college game action. “I think it will take a couple plays. But he's the type of player that can make game-time adjustments. … I don't think he's going to have a tough time at all.”


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