February 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Matt Stankiewitch tried to explain the vast array of areas he had already been tested on in his first two days at the NFL Combine.
After about 30 seconds, his attempt began to tail off.
“It’s anything you can think of,” Stankiewitch said in a phone interview from Indianapolis on Thursday evening. “I didn’t even know they had some of these tests. It’s a really tough day, and you have to really concentrate to get through it.”
The former Penn State offensive lineman said the amount of testing could be overwhelming for some, but his pre-Combine preparation helped him get the process with NFL representatives off on the right foot.
Stankiewitch continued to work out in State College with fellow NFL hopefuls of the Nittany Lions squad over the past few weeks. He said he particularly benefited from the guidance of Penn State strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald to help prepare for physical testing, which is set to begin today for offensive linemen.
However, he said he gained confidence heading into the interviewing process with enormous support from former Penn State offensive lineman and current Oakland Raider Stefen Wisniewski.
“I think I’m doing really well. I think I’m very prepared,” Stankiewitch said. “I knew what I was getting myself into with coming here and knowing what’s going to happen by talking to previous players and having help from coach Fitz and everything. I’m mentally prepared and I’m enjoying myself.”
The former Lion said part of that mental preparation was knowing how to respond to questions regarding the team’s handling of the controversy swirling around the Penn State football program within the past two seasons.
Stankiewitch said answering the so-called “Penn State question” is done most easily if one speaks from the heart.
“Of course, almost every scout or coach has their own opinion or wants my opinion on what happened,” he said. “And you just have to give them what you feel went on. I feel we had a strong senior class with awesome leadership from our coaches, which we gravitated to. Coach O’Brien led that charge and had a mission. It was contagious and he led by example and we just took it from there.”
The first-team All-Big Ten lineman said he expects the outcome of this experience to actually help him as he moves on to the next chapter of his career.
Stankiewitch’s mother, Lisa, said in an interview earlier this week she was most impressed with her son’s unwavering support throughout the trials and tribulations of the past two years at Penn State — something she views as the main positive take-away from his career.
“His allegiance to a cause [is the main thing he’s learned],” Lisa said. “He believed in coach O’Brien and the team and was what Penn State was all about. That was definitely what molded him. Among controversy, you have to just stay on the course.”