Hampton star ignores naysayers
Hampton's Jordan Paskorz has heard the whispers.
The senior standout football player has read that he's overrated and that his scholarship offer to Michigan was helped by bloodlines.
But the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Paskorz brushes it off like he has so many offensive tackles.
"If they want to say what they want, they can," said the soft-spoken Paskorz at a recent scrimmage. "If anything, I have more to prove to myself than others."
A hybrid defensive end/linebacker, Paskorz has carved a reputation as one of the WPIAL's elite players. Various blog writers question how elite.
Hampton second-year coach Jacque DeMatteo, who spent the previous eight seasons coaching Shaler, deflects Paskorz's naysayers.
"Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinions," DeMatteo said. "Honestly, I can only base mine from working with the kid, but it's hard to find a player of his caliber. He worked hard, he devoted time early in the morning and he didn't miss workouts.
"Jordan has been a quiet leader, and at least to me, he's exemplified what a Division I player should be."
What isn't questioned is Paskorz's athleticism. His muscular frame -- and the potential to add more bulk -- is evident. He runs a 40-yard dash in about 4.7 seconds and can dunk a basketball from a standing position.
Paskorz, who also plays tight end, had nine sacks for a Talbots squad that struggled to a 1-8 finish in 2008.
"He's a physical specimen," DeMatteo said. "You look at him sometimes, and you forget he's just an 18-year-old kid."
Depending on how opposing backfields set up, Paskorz will sometimes rush the line of scrimmage and, other times, drop into linebacker coverage.
DeMatteo knows Paskorz likely will play a nearly identical position in the Michigan system.
"It's really based on what the offenses are doing. It's not any more complicated than that," DeMatteo said. "He has some things you can't coach.
"With all that being said, I can tell you right now, people aren't going to be afraid to run towards him. People aren't going to back down from him, and I hope he expects that."
Next season, Paskorz could collide with older brother, Steve, who played in 10 games last year as a Notre Dame fullback.
"I wouldn't call it a rivalry, but it's a competition, definitely," the younger Paskorz said. "We grew up competitive. But we're different kinds of players, but the fact we'll be playing each other at that level is a great feeling."
Paskorz, who said he's focused on his final high school season and improving his play recognition, seems to accept that more is expected of him this year.
"Obviously, people are going to say things about you no matter what," he said. "It just depends on how you handle it. I feel like I'm more than ready."
DeMatteo, though, is more vocal about meeting the increased burden head-on.
"If teams want to focus on Jordan, I think other kids are ready to step up because you can just tell they have a little bit of a different walk to them, a different attitude," DeMatteo said. "This attention has been great for the program and great for the community.
"That being said, more is expected of us and of Jordan, and that's how it's going to have to be. If you're going to a big-time college program, you've got to raise the bar, and he's going to have to produce."Additional Information:
School : Hampton
Positions : Defensive end/tight end
Height/weight : 6-foot-4, 235 pounds
Did you know? : Jordan, who has verbally committed to Michigan, has a brother Steve, who plays at Notre Dame.