Offensive line leaders help Peter Skoronski develop into a star


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Freshman Peter Skoronski lines up with the offensive line for a snap against Iowa

Greg Svirnovskiy, Reporter


When freshman offensive lineman Peter Skoronski signed up for collegiate football at Northwestern, he thought he would play with future NFL draft pick Rashawn Slater. Skoronski dominated at Maine South High School, just a half an hour away from Ryan Field in Park Ridge, and was set to learn from an elite run blocker who’d made a name for himself as one of NU’s best offensive lineman ever.

But that’s not happening. Slater opted out of the college football season after the Big Ten postponed the season back in August, and Skoronski has been the anointed starter at left tackle since his first game with the Cats.

They still talk.

“He’s been a really great resource for me — even since he’s opted out,” Skoronski said. “Even with him gone, he’s still able to help me. He’s been texting me advice and just telling me what I can do better, what I can improve on.“

Skoronski has relied on the veteran leadership of the Cats’ offensive line. He watches game film with senior lineman Nik Urban, and texts seniors Gunnar Vogel and Sem Gerek with questions and observations.

“He’s always asking questions, wanting to learn. His performance doesn’t just happen,” Urban said. “He’s preparing like he’s a vet which is huge for a guy who’s going into this third week of college football.”

Together, the line is off to a great start two games into the Big Ten season. NU running backs have scored a combined seven touchdowns and are averaging 234 total rushing yards a contest.

Skoronski has certainly played his part. After the Cats’ win over Iowa last weekend, he was named the second highest graded freshman by Pro Football Focus. Over the first two games of his collegiate career, he’s compiled a 91.4 PFF ranking.

It’s a start that’s drawing strong comparisons to Slater. Offensive line coach Kurt Anderson thinks it’s apt. Both come from athletic families. Skoronski’s grandfather was a five-time NFL champion with the Green Bay Packers. Slater’s dad played in the NBA.

“They (both) put in the time and effort to perfect their craft and out as many tools in their toolbox,” Anderson said. “Rashawn picking my brain about all the little details of different types of techniques, the “what-if scenarios.” And Peter has been doing the same thing.”

There’s a lot to be excited about with Skoronski. He was the fourth best center in the country when he committed to NU last year. He won the starting left tackle job as a true freshman. And while there are still noticeable areas for improvement in his game, Anderson has said he has done a great job in run production.

The pedigree and talent is there. So is the work ethic. The timing will come, Anderson said. He likens it to the Matrix.

“As you start to see safety rotations you start to see linebacker fits…it can tell you what’s happening up front,” Anderson said. “All of a sudden the game slows down for you. You can start dodging those bullets and doing all those sweet kung fu moves.”

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Twitter: @gsvirnovskiy