Big Ten: Rich D\'Amico

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

When most players make a position change, they usually consult a coach for guidance or a teammate who has gone through a similar transition.

Stefen Wisniewski simply called his uncle.

Steve Wisniewski twice earned first-team All-America honors as a guard at Penn State. He went on to become an eight-time Pro Bowler in the NFL, primarily playing guard but also serving as a backup center for the Oakland Raiders.  

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  Penn State guard/center Stefen Wisniewski has plenty of family advice to draw on to aid his position transition.
Not a bad resource for Stefen, who this spring made the shift from right guard to center at Penn State.

"It's one thing to have some family with some football experience," Stefen Wisniewski said, "but to have guys that played your same position, it's unbelievable because they know exactly what you're going through and they can give you tips based on what they did."

It's one of the perks of being a Wisniewski, especially at Penn State. Though the Paternos will always be the royal family in Happy Valley, the Wisniewskis are certainly part of the nobility. 

In addition to Steve, who played on Penn State's last national championship team in 1986, Stefen's dad Leo was a standout defensive tackle for the Nittany Lions from 1979-81. Stefen is next in line, and he moves into a greater leadership role along a new-look offensive line as he replaces Rimington Trophy winner A.Q. Shipley at center.

Having such a storied lineage at one program can heighten pressure on a player, but Wisniewski, a 6-3, 302-pound junior, doesn't see it that way. 

"It definitely motivates me to want to keep the name up and even try to one-up those guys," he said. "It's not real easy. They were both top-30 draft picks. My uncle was a two-time All-American, so it's going to take a lot, but I'm certainly going to try to and if not, at least keep the respect that the Wisniewski name has up here."

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