Pine-Richland’s Kristofic has unfinished business before heading to Notre Dame

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Friday, July 13, 2018 | 5:27 PM


One of the top football players in the WPIAL and the state in 2017 is making his way to South Bend to begin his college career at Notre Dame this fall.

Wash, rinse and repeat with just a change of date for next summer.

After 2017-18 Trib HSSN Boys Athlete of the Year Phil Jurkovec concluded his successful high school career at Pine-Richland and starts practice at Notre Dame next month, teammate and friend Andrew Kristofic will follow in his footsteps once he graduates next spring.

However, while they played football and basketball in high school and will be football teammates for the Fighting Irish, there’s more to going to the Golden Dome for Kristofic than just hanging out with his old buddy.

“My decision was much bigger than any one person,” said the 6-foot-6, 230-pound tackle. “At the same time, however, you do like to like the guys you are going to be sharing the locker room with and feel comfortable with them, and that is certainly the case between me and Phil. You always want to surround yourself with the best people and players, as well.”

Kristofic’s selection of Notre Dame came after cutting his many offers down to the final four of the Fighting Irish, Clemson, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz loves Kristofic’s length, his toughness and pass blocking. But there is one other aspect that is just as big.

“We need him to continue what he has done previously,” Kasperowicz said. “He is a great leader of the football team.”

He has spent this summer working on big things, as well as the little things that have helped separate him from other scholastic linemen.

“Well, every year regardless of what year it is, you can always get bigger, faster and stronger,” he said. “You can always continue working on your technique to continue getting better.”

Part of Kristofic’s success on the line he credits to his basketball career, which he admits has come to an end.

“Basketball has helped me tremendously and has made me into the football player I am now,” he said. “Basketball is all about athleticism, and I feel like that is the strongest part of my football game. And when you think about it, defending in basketball is basically pass blocking without using hands for football.

”I am not going to be playing basketball this winter at Pine-Richland because I will be enrolling early to Notre Dame and will be graduating high school in January and leaving.”

Before he heads to South Bend, Kristofic and his teammates are getting ready to defend their Class 6A district and state crowns when they kick off practice in less than a month.

“Training camp is a grind, there is no doubt about that, but it is certainly necessary and you find out a lot about your team during that time,” Kristofic said. “It is also nice to finally put the pads on and know that the season is really just around the corner.”

So how does one of the senior leaders think his team will do this fall?

“We lost a lot of great players this year, but I feel like we have a great core of guys back,” he said. “I think our O-line and defensive front seven will be very strong. There are lots of opportunities for skill players to step up across the board and show what they could do. I think we definitely have a lot of prove. If everyone plays the way they can, we’ll be just fine and be able to compete with anyone we step on the field with.”

Andrew Kristofic

School: Pine-Richland

Class: Senior

Ht/wt: 6-6, 230

Position: OT

Stars: 3

Committed to: Notre Dame

Division I offers: Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Akron, Boston College, Buffalo, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin

Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at drebel@tribweb.com.

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