NFL Draft: Penn State's Wisniewski joins uncle with Raiders
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As a youngster, Stefen Wisniewski used to slip on his uncle's No. 76 jersey and go watch him play when the Oakland Raiders were within a few hours of Pittsburgh.
He did that an estimated 15 or 20 times.
Now, the former Penn State All-American will be coached by his uncle, Steve, the Raiders assistant offensive line coach.
Oakland, which did not have a first-round pick, selected Stefen Wisniewski in the second round Friday night. The Central Catholic High School graduate, who will play center in the pros, was the 48th pick overall.
"I am thrilled to be going to the Raiders, and really pumped to have the chance to play for Steve," said Wisniewski, surrounded by approximately 70 friends, family and former Penn State teammates at a party in Bridgeville when the Raiders called. "I guess now I get to wear a Wisniewski jersey, but it will be mine.
"Steve obviously knows what it takes to be a great offensive lineman. ... Everyone's thrilled. My dad, obviously, knows I'm in good hands playing for Steve. I mean, we grew up Raiders fans, grew up cheering for Steve. It just feels right."
Steve Wisniewski was an eight-time Pro Bowl guard in 13 seasons with the Raiders after twice earning All-American honors with the Nittany Lions.
Stefen's father, Leo, a Fox Chapel High School graduate who was a tri-captain at Penn State in 1981, 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, also were second-round NFL draft picks. Leo was selected 28th overall in 1982; Steve 29th overall in '89.
"It's pretty cool that we all were drafted in the second round," Stefen said. "They both were the first picks of the second round. I was a little lower, but we're a very blessed family."
Wisniewski, 6 feet 3 and 313 pounds, was a three-year starter for Penn State, a three-time Academic All-American 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.
Wisniewski said he does not feel any extra pressure to carry on the family legacy with the Raiders -- or in the NFL.
"That's exactly the kind of situation I faced when I came to Penn State," he said. "Coming into a place where my father and uncle left quite a legacy. There were certain expectations behind that. And, to be honest, I liked that."
Raiders Hall of Fame center Jim Otto, who still works for the team in an administrative role, believes Wisniewski will have a long, productive career, just like his uncle.
"He's strong, he's intelligent -- that's all been said about him," Otto said. "He's big and he's strong. It runs in the Wisniewski family. ... He plays the type of football that I like, so he's a Raider, and he's going to be a great Raider for us."
Penn State All-American Stefen Wisniewski will be coached by his uncle, Steve, the Raiders assistant offensive line coach.
First Published April 30, 2011 12:00 am