As Stanko and his parents began the three-hour drive from Warren, Ohio, to University Park, he was not sure he was ready to commit.
“Of course I had high expectations,” Stanko said. “I wanted to learn as much as I could about Penn State, and see if I would be comfortable going there.”
He liked what he saw. Before heading home, the Howland High standout commited to the Lions.
“It's the right fit for me and my family, academically and with football,” Stanko said. “The Big Ten is a great football conference and it's the right fit for me.”
Stanko spent Saturday touring the weight room, football building, checking out spring practice, and meeting PSU coaches and players.
It wasn't until he had some time to reflect that he knew Penn State was where he wanted to be.
“My family and I walked around and talked about things,” Stanko said. “We went to a couple of gift shops and that's when I decided I wanted to be a Penn State football student-athlete.”
He made it official by picking out a PSU baseball cap, and calling up assistant Jay Paterno -- who is in charge of Stanko's region of recruits.
“Coach Jay met us in the football center, and I told him in person,” Stanko said.
The coach's first reaction? He called up his father, legendary PSU coach Joe Paterno, and handed the phone to Stanko.
“He [Joe Paterno] told me he was very happy, and he thinks I will do very great things for them,” Stanko said. “And he is really excited that I chose Penn State.”
He added, “I really like him, by the way, he is awesome. He seems like the father figure of coaches -- a guy you would really like to hang around.”
The coaches aren't the only one's who are excited about Stanko's decision. His parents are, too.
“They have a really great feeling about the whole situation,” Stanko said. “They love the atmosphere, they love the fans and they feel like the alumni are going to be a great help in [my] getting jobs after college.”
Stanko has something to say as he joins Nittany Nation:
“I am anxious to be in front of the fans,” Stanko said. “They are one of the things that opened my eyes to Penn State. When I came to the Michigan game [last season], they saw my letter jacket and started asking me all kinds of questions. I want to make the fans and alumni proud. “
By becoming the first commitment for the Class of 2012, he is well on the way.
Stanko and his family meet Jay Paterno at the Michigan game.