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Knoch two-way lineman anticipates more offers from Division I schools

| Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Knoch's Connor Shinsky (59) blocks against Franklin Regional during their game at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville on Friday, October 4, 2013.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Knoch's Connor Shinsky at Knoch High School on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013.

Although his high school football career is behind him, Knoch senior Connor Shinsky senses more opportunities exist to convince Division I college coaches that he deserves a scholarship offer.

That's one reason why the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Shinsky plans to return to basketball after a year away from hoops.

Shinsky seeks more chances to display his athleticism, particularly his footwork, following a football season in which he further bolstered his reputation as a Division-I caliber talent. A starter on both the offensive and defensive line, he entered the season with three Division I offers — Kent State, St. Francis and Texas-El Paso — and picked up two more — Bucknell and Lafayette.

“Complacency is the danger for a kid who has a successful junior season, which he did, but I didn't see him rest on laurels at all,” Knoch coach Mike King said. “If anything, it was just the opposite. He worked even harder and really stepped forward to become a leader.”

A visit to Knoch High School from a UMass coach on Nov. 8 reminded Shinsky that his recruiting process is far from settled. He hopes by circulating his senior season highlights and proving himself in basketball, a sport he last played as a sophomore, he'll stir up more attention.

“I feel like this (football) season helped out my recruiting,” Shinsky said. “Last year, teams would look at my film and be like, ‘He can play offense, but he needs to bring the same mentality on offense that he does on defense.' This year, I feel like I really dominated on offense.”

Most of the schools recruiting Shinsky want him as an offensive tackle or possibly a guard. Lafayette desires him for defensive tackle.

Shinsky has no position preference.

Until he visits more of the schools, he's hard pressed to even express a school preference.

He visited Lafayette on Sept. 14 to see the team play William & Mary — Lafayette made its scholarship offer a week later — and also watched the Leopards upset Fordham, ranked No. 5 in the Football Championship Subdivision, on Nov. 16.

He also went to a workout at Kent State this past spring and attended the Golden Flashes' game against Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 13.

Shinsky hopes to hit the road and visit the rest of the schools this winter.

“I kind of wanted to focus on the team during the season and let it play out a little bit,” he said. “Now that the season is over, I can focus on more extensive research, planning visits and stuff like that.”

Basketball also will keep Shinsky busy this winter. He played basketball as a sophomore and took it seriously enough to also belong to an AAU team. But he gave up hoops last year to focus on adding muscle for football — he succeeded with that mission, as he gained about 30 pounds.

“I think he really loves basketball, and I think he missed playing it a little bit last year,” King said. “Even when he's playing basketball, he needs to get in the weight room. … Weighing 250 is good to be recruited out of high school, but to play at the next level ... coaches always come in and see his frame and say, ‘I could see him easily being 280-285.'”

With a few months left to make up his mind about schools, Shinsky remains relatively stress free. He has no intention of rushing to a decision just to avoid the anxiety that often comes with recruitment.

“I had a very heavy spring with recruiting — a lot of people came in and talked to me,” Shinsky said. “So what's going on now really isn't too much. And coach King is doing a good job of helping me keep everything in check.”

Added King: “The one thing that I just tell him is to enjoy the process. I work with a lot of kids, and they get stressed out by this process. I just tell them to enjoy the ride, because this is one of the few times in life that you'll be treated this way.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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