Saturday, July 28, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.13 Mark Stepnoski

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

13. Mark Stepnoski (1985-1988)- When he came out of Erie, the offensive guard was being called the next Bill Fralic.  While he, and maybe nobody else, ever reached that level, he was a dominating lineman.  In fact, after Pitt demolished West Virginia 48-14 in Stepnoski's sophomore year, legendary Mountaineers head coach Don Nehlen called Stepnoski the best guard he's ever seen.  And ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski reported that Joe Paterno once barred him from the Penn State campus because he blamed him for writing a glowing report on then Pitt offensive line coach Bill Myers, and Paterno thought that tipped Stepnoski Pitt's way.

Stepnoski was a four year starter and was named a third team All-American as a sophomore and a consensus first team All-American as a senior.  In his final season he was a Lombardi Trophy semifinalist and an Outland Trophy finalist.  He was also the lead blocker for Craig Heyward's 1,700+ yard season and Curvin Richards' 1200+ yard freshman season the following year.  On top of everything else, he helped Pitt look good by being one of the best player athlete students in the county.  

Taken as a center in the 3rd round by the Dallas Cowboys, Stepnoski was a five-time Pro Bowler and was named to the 1990s NFL All-Decade Team.


  1. Wow, you mean JoePa had the authority to ban people from campus? I'm shocked!!!! He was just a football coach, so say his family and disciples!

  2. Though I hate the Cowboys, I couldn't hate Stepnoski. HOF, I think.