Knoch offensive lineman commits to Akron
Entering his senior season, Knoch 6-foot-8, 265-pound offensive lineman Micah Lio believed his size would turn the heads of Division I college scouts.
Lio also knew that to keep their attention he would have to improve his game and throw his weight around. He accomplished his goal.
Lio recently made a verbal commitment to Akron after receiving a full scholarship offer from the Mid-American Conference school. The NCAA signing period for letters of intent begins Feb. 3.
Division I Eastern Michigan and New Hampshire also offered full scholarships.
"He was bound and determined to be a force on the offensive line, and he really did that," Knoch coach Mike King said. "In some games, I saw him taking people 6 and 7 yards off the ball and putting people on their backs."
Lio blossomed into a strong run blocker and helped lead Knoch (3-7) to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, where the Knights bowed out to eventual champion West Allegheny in the first round.
Lio was named to the All-Greater Allegheny Conference second team as an offensive lineman. He also started at defensive tackle for Knoch.
Akron football is in a transition period. Last season, the Zips opened 30,000-seat InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field. The Zips also hired a new coach, Ron Ianello, after going 3-9 under J.D. Brookhart in 2009.
"I went out there for the grand opening of the new stadium," Lio said. "It was really nice. They also have a good academic program. And the new coach they brought in is a great guy. He has me bought into the program. It just clicked. All the pieces of the puzzle fit."
Lio gave special credit to Knoch offensive line coach Frank Whalen for developing him into a Division I-caliber player.
"I see him as my best friend," Lio said. "He took me under his wing, and he made sure I would be getting the exposure (to scouts)."
Another Knoch player who has received Division I attention is senior Jake McTighe, who was named to the all-conference first team as a linebacker and all-purpose player and second team as a punter. Colgate and St. Francis, among other schools, have expressed interest in McTighe, according to King.
In the last decade, Knoch has had a reputation for producing big players in football and basketball. For example, 6-foot-8 Ryan Hollihan played both sports at Knoch and ended up with the Allegheny College basketball team. Knoch also had five Bzorek brothers — all huge linemen — go on to play Division II football.