WETHERSFIELD - At 6’3”, 235 pounds, Geoff Skowronek is Wethersfield High School football’s version of Goliath, but the Division II-bound defensive end prefers the role of David.
He finds inspiration in former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, whose trademark “Tebowing,”a touchdown celebration that resembles kneeling in prayer, has become trademark as legions of fans followed his improbable run to the playoffs as a starter for the Denver Broncos, to his short stint with the Jets and, most recently, unsuccessful training camp with the New England Patriots.
“He’s one of the huge reasons I’m playing football now,” Skowronek said. “Just being a Christain leader, he’s a huge role model for me.”
Perhaps it’s more than faith that he and his favorite player have in common. Both, at least initially, were underdogs. While Tebow continues to strive to defy the expectations of his doubters, as he did in winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Broncos on a seven-game winning streak and upset playoff victory against the banged up Pittsburg Steelers three years ago, Skowronek has been on a journey that, every step of the way, has exceeded his own.
He admits that as a freshman at Wethersfield High School, he was undecided as to whether or not he even wanted to play football, having only started in eighth grade.
“I didn’t even know if I’d play, but if you really believe in yourself, anything’s possible,” Skowronek said.
Little by little, his expectations grew.
“I never really thought about [playing college football] until my junior year,” Skowronek said. “I never thought I’d be able to. Then I realized it could be a great opportunity and it kind of fell in place.”
He makes it sound easy, but as Eagles head coach John Campanello can attest, it was anything but.
“We try to go from having kids with the ability to play at the next level, to steering them to show them what they need to do that,” Campanello said.
And what they need to do, is well, everything, he said.
“College coaches won’t even talk to you if your grades aren’t where they have to be,” Campanello said. “And he worked hard in the weight room, too. If you don’t have a good work ethic in the weight room, as well as the classroom, it’s going be hard to play at the next level. Geoff totally bought into the program.”
For Skowronek, that started with a mental adjustment.
“I developed a passion for the game, as opposed to it being something I do on the side,” Skowronek said. “It became something I did as a person.”
And it will start again at Assumption College, where he will suit up for the Greyhounds next fall.
“I’m looking forward to doing what I love for as long as I can,” he said. “I’m looking forward to just playing football. It helped me get into a great school; just opened so many doors for me.”
As far as a door to a football career beyond college goes, let’s just say Skowronek won’t be afraid to knock.
“You always want to try and play to the next level,” he said. “You have to dream big.”