By Irish Jack Ireland
Andrew Szczerba is hoping his football career didn’t end with Penn State’s bowl loss to Houston in early January.
Szczerba, the Nittany Lions tight end and Salesianum School graduate, was hampered with injuries through part of his collegiate career. This past season he bounced back from back surgery to start at tight end for the Lions. He caught 12 passes for 101 yards, but was even more highly-regarded for his blocking skills in the Penn State running attack.
In hopes of getting a look in the NFL draft or as a free agent in late April, Szczerba played tight end for the Amerrican team in a 20-14 loss to the National squad in the inaugural AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 21 in Carson, Calif.
Szczerba’s American team was coached by Tom Flores, the former Super Bowl winning coach and player of the Oakland Raiders. Dick Vermeil, who coached the Eagles and the St. Louis Rams during his career, handled the National’s. Vermeil won a Super Bowl with the Rams in 1999 and his Eagles team lost to the Flores coached raiders in 1980.
The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is an All-Star Game held specifically for graduating seniors and underclassmen who have declared for the 2012 NFL draft. The 2012 Draft starts on April 26 in New York City.
Szczerba caught one pass in the game, but was also recognized for his excellent blocking skills from the tight end position. Szczerba was a two-time first team scholastic All-State end, helping Sallies win consecutive Division I football titles in 2005 and 2006. He excelled as a blocker and a receiver for the Sals at tight end.
Szczerba and his teammates, including All-American defensive tackle Devon Still of Howard, were rocked when their legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired late in the 2011 season. Paterno got caught up in the middle of possibly not taking stronger action years ago concerning former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky has been arrested and charged with sexually molesting numerous young boys over a period of years.
On top of that, Paterno died of cancer last month. Szczerba and Still were personally recruited by “JoePa” who made personal visits to Wilmington in 2006 while those two young men were seniors at Sallies and Howard respectively.
Szczerba actually earned his degree in criminal justice, business option last spring, but still had one year of eligibility remaining last fall. His twin sister Julianna,, who also graduated from Penn State last spring, earned her degree in Health Policy and Administration. She is currently working for Elite Physical Therapy.
Szczerba has remained in State College, Pa. to continue training with hopes of being drafted or getting a free agent NFL contract this spring.
Szczerba comes from quite a football family background. Ed Szczerba, his father, was a first team All-State tight end on Salesianum’s 1972 state championship team. His late uncle, Joe Szczerba, played football at Sallies and West Chester University. New Castle County Police Officer Joe Szczerba was killed in the line of duty last fall. Andrew also has another uncle who played Division I-AA college football.