Nick Shafnisky, Sophomore QB
Lehigh University Mountain Hawks
Whitehall, PA native
With last year’s starting quarterback Brandon Bialkowski graduated and out of the picture, incoming Sophomore Nick Shafnisky should get the starting nod for the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks football program this fall. As a freshman last season, Shafnisky saw action at quarterback in the final four games of the season, including an 11-of-12, 136-yard and three TD (two pass, one rush) performance in a win over Holy Cross.
Throughout the 2013 campaign, Shafnisky threw for 326 yards with five touchdowns, three picks and a rushing touchdown. The squad went 2-2 over those final four games, finishing the season with an 8-3 record.
Shafnisky, a Whitehall, Pennsylvania native, racked up many honors and awards while an athlete in high school before choosing to suit up for the Mountain Hawks last fall to begin his collegiate career.
Nick’s High School career at Whitehall:
– Lehigh Valley Conference MVP
– First Team All-LVC
– All-Area Athlete
– All-State Honorable Mention
– LVC Champion
Our NFL Draft/NCAA Analyst Johnny Ulecka got an opportunity to catch up with Shafnisky for a brief interview recently as the Lehigh quarterback prepares to take over the reins of head coach Andy Coen’s offense:
All-Out Blitz: Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
Nick Shafnisky: The biggest inspiration in my life––honestly, this was the toughest question out of them all. My father, out of every single game that I’ve played in my life with football, baseball, basketball, and track. He’s missed ONE summer league basketball game. No matter where or when he’s always there for me. On the other hand, my mom is always making sure I have this or that even if I don’t need it. She’s my “off-the-field” parent and my dad’s my “on-the-field” parent, so to speak. I’m lucky to have both of them.
AOB: What player do you model your game after?
Shafnisky: A player that I model my game after I would have to say––because I’m a slightly undersized quarterback but also like to run around and use my feet to help escape from defenders––would have to be Johnny Football. Not saying I’m any where near his caliber or skill set. But like him, sometimes there’s just that clock in your head that says, tuck and run and make something happen out of nothing. Like Johnny, I’m not the prototypical quarterback.
AOB: What was it about Lehigh that made you want to attend the school and play football there?
Shafnisky: What made me choose Lehigh, ultimately and above all, were the coaches. My dad and I checked out a whole bunch of colleges from D1-A to D1-AA to DII and Lehigh always was one of the top on the list. But with the academics it provides along with the social life, it wasn’t too difficult of a decision to realize I wanted to be a Mountain Hawk for the next 4 years.
AOB: What was the biggest adjustment from High School to College football?
Shafnisky: The biggest adjustment from high school to college football was not only the size of the guys but the speed. You’d think because these defensive linemen and linebackers are even bigger now, that they would at least be slower too. But I learned that was a mistake my practice when the D-linemen were hawking me down.
AOB: What will you take from last season’s performance to build on for this year?
Shafnisky: One thing I would take from last season to this one is––we have to play whole entire games. Come out punching the opposing team in the mouth and leaving them laying on the field after the game so tired and beat up. The past two seasons for Lehigh we came up one game short of that ring being on our fingers. We’re practicing and lifting and working out every day so that doesn’t happen again. Our slogan this is TNT, There’s No Tomorrow, and we have to live by that every day.
AOB: This year the Lehigh/Lafayette game is at Yankee Stadium. What are your thoughts about that?
Shafnisky: This Lehigh/Lafayette game this year is without a doubt going to be in everyone’s mind from our first practice to the morning after the game, but at the same time we know we have to focus on James Madison first and go from there. The game will be the most memorable game any of us will probably ever play in though, which is a bittersweet feeling.
AOB: What is your main goal as quarterback for Lehigh this year?
Shafnisky: The main goal being a quarterback at Lehigh is to simply win. You look at the past quarterbacks at Lehigh and it’s almost impossible to do the things they’ve done. From Lum, to Colvin, to Bialkowski, the numbers they’ve put up along with the wins they’ve gotten for their team is crazy. The biggest thing for a quarterback is to be the most unselfish player on the team, even though most would think quarterbacks want to be the most selfish. If we have to hand the ball off 40-50 times a game to win the ball game, then that’s what were going to do. If we win the game, there’s no such thing as having a bad game and that’s why I love football so much. You need all 11 on the field at that time to work as one well-oiled machine, and that’s why this game is the best in the world.
Shafnisky will lead his Mountain Hawk squad out of the tunnel of Goodman Stadium to open the 2014 campaign against James Madison on September 6, 2014. But Coen’s coaching staff and all of the players still have a lot of work to do this summer to prepare for the season opener as they hope to end the season atop the Patriot League standings.
Photo: Justin LaFleur/Lehigh Athletics