Panther Profile: Andrew Taglianetti

With the conclusion of spring practice the Pantherdigest will be profiling the members of the class of 2008 that will land in Oakland this year. You will read several interesting stories about the future Panthers including Pittsburgh Central Catholic safety Andrew Taglianetti.

While Pittsburgh is enthralled by the Penguins' run in the Stanley Cup playoffs, future Pittsburgh safety Andrew Taglianetti has a greater interest than most.

It isn't because he's the son of former Pens defenseman Peter Taglianetti. Andrew's memories of his father's playing career are limited to being told by his father not to wear his skates on a tile floor while the senior Taglianetti was closing out his career with the Providence Bruins in 1995-96.

Rather, it is because Andrew is the Penguins' current stick boy.

"My twin brother and I, John, who goes to South Fayette, have worked in the locker room for the past three years," Andrew said. "I've gotten to know most of the players."

So much so that when his Central Catholic Vikings defeated Gateway, 35-34, for the WPIAL championship at Heinz Field, defensemen Brooks Orpik and Ryan Whitney were on the Vikes' sideline with him.

This dream job has afforded him the opportunity to get some prized memorabilia- an autographed picture of New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur is his favorite- but he also realizes the spoils belong to the victors.

"With all those student rushers I'm sure I'll be asked for free tickets," Andrew said. "But I'm only going to take girls on dates!"

Andrew chose to concentrate on football instead of hockey in the seventh grade after his father encouraged him to prioritize his athletic pursuits.

While hockey is Andrew's favorite sport to watch, football is his favorite to play. Add to the fact he was then in the South Fayette school system, which does not have the hockey program Central Catholic does, and the decision was natural.

Andrew transferred to Central Catholic for his sophomore season after speaking to Penn State guard Stefen Wisniewski, a neighbor of the Taglianetti's who was then a lineman for the Vikings.

While Andrew states he wasn't unhappy at South Fayette, he is an independent individual who stated he would not have considered attending West Virginia because his older brother Patrick attends college there.

The move to Oakland proved fruitful, however, as Andrew immediately began starting as a cornerback in Central Catholic's three-man secondary.

In his senior year, Taglianetti had intercepted five passes as a defensive back and gained 1,161 yards with 12 touchdowns on 102 carries as a running back along with 420 yards three touchdowns on 17 receptions.

His most memorable moment was his 35-yard touchdown run against Gateway in the 2007 WPIAL Championship to give the Vikings a 14-7 third quarter lead.

Taglianetti will be attending Pitt as a greyshirt, which means that he will not practice with the team in 2008, but rather be put on a strict weight room schedule by Buddy Morris to add weight to his 5-11, 175-pound frame while concentrating on his business degree.

With a redshirt, it could be two seasons before Taglianetti sees collegiate action, and the other programs interested in him, Louisville, Toledo, Towson and Virginia Military, did not want him to greyshirt.

But Taglianetti has a goal of playing special teams for the Panthers by 2009, so he hopes his "grey" shirt will essentially turn "red."

Until then, if a Panthers fan would happen to see Taglianetti working out, there would probably be a local country radio station on the sound system. He is a Brad Paisley fan and started listening to John Denver when his mother played his "Greatest Hits" CD in the family car.

Which means this future Panther was influenced to play at his high school by a Penn State player and his favorite John Denver song is "Country Roads."

Perhaps it is a good thing he is a Penguins stick boy to appease Pitt fans!

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