Wisniewski likes family ties
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State All-American offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself.
But ever since his uncle, Steve, was named assistant offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders late last month, Stefen frequently has thought about the possibility of wearing a silver and black NFL uniform this fall.
Wisniewski, a Central Catholic High School graduate, is ranked the No. 1 center in the country by NFLDraftScout.com and is projected as a second-round pick.
"I don't know anything at this point about where I will get drafted or who will draft me," he said. "But you never know. It would be pretty cool to play for my uncle Steve. I think it would be awesome to work with him every day.
"He was a great player for the Raiders, a great leader. I used to go watch him play some when I was a kid, and I'd hang out in the locker room afterward."
The Raiders traded away their first-round pick in the draft to acquire defensive lineman Richard Seymour and will not choose until No. 48 (in the second round).
There is an outside shot that Wisniewski could fall to Oakland, where Steve was an eight-time Pro Bowl guard in 13 seasons after earning All-American honors twice with the Nittany Lions.
"The Raiders need some inside interior linemen, so there's definitely a possibility Stefen could end up there," said agent Eddie Johnson of Eastern Athletic Services, the firm representing Wisniewski. "The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts also are possibilities because of their Penn State connections with [head coaches] Mike Munchak and Jim Caldwell."
Johnson, a defensive back, played on Penn State's 1986 national championship team with Steve Wisniewski.
"There are a lot of similarities between Stefen and Steve," Johnson said. "They're both very smart, both very well-respected. And they both play with a lot of intensity on the football field."
Stefen Wisniewski also has learned many valuable lessons from his father, Leo, a Fox Chapel High School graduate who was a tri-captain at Penn State in 1981 and spent three years as a nose tackle with the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts before knee injuries ended his career.
Leo and Steve, who played high school football in Houston, were both second-round NFL draft picks.
"My dad and uncle have been great teachers through the years, and they both have taught me so much about football," Stefen Wisniewski said. "I've been very blessed in that regard."
Wisniewski, 6 feet 3 and 310 pounds, was a three-year starter at Penn State and a two-time All-Big Ten Conference selection. He made 39 career starts, playing right guard in 2008 and '10 and center in '09.
"I'm not sure what position I'll play in the NFL," said Wisniewski, who also was a three-time Academic All-American. "I think it all depends on what team drafts me."
He has been in Florida since Penn State's 37-24 loss to the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl New Year's Day and has been training at the Athletes' Performance facility in Pensacola.
Wisniewski elected to skip the postseason all-star games in order to prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts Wednesday in Indianapolis, and Pro Day March 16 at Penn State.
"People have told me the combine is like a decathlon," Wisniewski said. "You don't have to win, but you have to do well in every event, and that's the attitude I am taking there."
Record-setting tailback Evan Royster, who scored a touchdown in the East-West Shrine Game, is the only other Penn State player who will attend the combine.
Royster, 6-1, 218, was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and finished as the Lions' career rushing leader with 3,932 yards. NFLDraftScout.com ranks Royster, who has been working out at a different location in Florida, the 16th-best running back in the NFL draft and a fifth- or sixth-round selection.
First Published February 22, 2011 12:00 am