It’s not often that a virtual neophyte to the game of football is offered a preferred walk-on opportunity with a major football program. That’s what makes 2018 Butler High School offensive lineman Nick Stazer’s story so interesting. It all started when the hulking 6-foot-5 inch, 295 pound lineman walked by Pat Narduzzi in a hallway.
“One day, right before Christmas break, Pitt coaches came in to talk with Jake Kradel. I guess I walked by and they saw me and Coach Narduzzi asked Jake who I was. The principal came down and grabbed me and told me to come talk to them,” said Stazer.
“I walked in and Coach (John) Peterson and Coach Narduzzi were in the room. I talked to them for a couple of minutes and they said they’d be in contact with me. I talked to Coach Peterson for a couple of weeks and then he ended up getting let go so I just kind of expected the whole thing to be over. So I just pretty much was decided on going to Akron.”
“I eventually received a call from the Director of Player Personnel Graham Wilbert and he told me that they were still interested in me and they would let me know if I’m in their 105 by July. Two days later, new offensive line coach Dave Borbley texted me and told me I’m in the 105. I haven’t met Coach Borbley yet, but I’m heading down to Pitt’s first spring practice on Monday.”
Stazer will be the second Butler High School (Butler, PA) offensive lineman to join the Pitt program. His teammate, Jake Kradel, was a highly touted prospect that committed to the Panthers and has already joined the football program.
With Stazer’s considerable size, one would assume that he’s played football on a consistent basis and lived in the weight room. That’s far from the truth.
“Well I started (football) in third grade. I played until the eighth grade then I stopped. They had me on the line the entire time,” he said. “This year I spoke with Coach (Eric) Christy, now our head coach, who was the offensive coordinator at the time. He was the teacher in my government class and he pretty much got me interested in playing again. So I decided I was going to play and they had me playing tight end and middle linebacker.”
“Three weeks into the season our quarterback he was having a rough time, he wasn’t playing well and he was hurt. They decided to switch to just run the ball every time offense with Luke Michalek as quarterback. They moved me to guard and defensive tackle. The fourth game was the first game I played offensive line and it went well so that it continued. Luke actually ended up running for 1,000 yards so that was cool.”
Stazer remains in regular communication with Kradel. He looks forward to joining him at Pitt. “Jake really likes it at Pitt. He said Coach Borbley is a great offensive line coach. He’s a really good teacher,” he said. “He’s very detailed about everything he does, which is good because I need that because I honestly don’t really know how to play offensive line, I just pretty much run at people.”
Although Stazer is a raw offensive lineman, he was asked about the positive aspect of his game. He stated, “I’m just aggressive. I was a good run blocker even as a tight end and I would go after people. I’m pretty well conditioned as well. I pretty much played every single play, both offense, defense and special teams, so I can go a whole game.”
Butler High School rarely threw the football. Stazer estimated roughly 15 pass plays were executed throughout the season. He had little opportunity to learn pass blocking.
Stazer has been regularly lifting weights with the Butler High School football team but he decided to take his conditioning to the next level and started workouts at Grossetti Performance in New Castle, PA. “I’m starting at Grossetti Performance and working on my speed and strength. I’m just trying to improve my bench press, squat and dead lift. I only started lifting June of last year so I have to catch up to everybody else.”
“I’m going to work as hard as I can to prepare myself for my first year at Pitt. I’m looking forward to being a Panther.”
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru