By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
TURBOTVILLE -- Like most young kids in the Central Susquehanna Valley, Austin Fiedler dreamed of playing football at Penn State University.
The 6-foot-6, 309-pound offensive tackle for Warrior Run High School thought he had everything set up to pursue his dream.
"I went to the camps the summer after my sophomore season and talked to everybody, really got to know the coaches," Fiedler said.
Then as Fiedler called it, "the mess" happened.
With the entirety of Joe Paterno's coaching staff forced out after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Fiedler had to get himself reacquainted to coach Bill O'Brien's new staff at Penn State.
"They of course replaced everybody after my junior year so I had to go up to the camps and introduce myself all over again," Fiedler said. "I went to every home game and made sure they knew I was still really interested in coming there."
Fiedler will get his opportunity next season joining Lewisburg's Brandon Smith as a run-on player for the Nittany Lions. With the lack of scholarships due to the NCAA sanctions, O'Brien's run-on's (the coach's name for his preferred walk-ons) will be a key part of the class.
Along with Fiedler and Smith, some of the other run-on's you might know are Old Forge's Brian Tomasetti, who played against Southern Columbia in the 2011 PIAA Class A playoffs; Trinity's Adam Geiger, who played against Lewisburg in the 2010 PIAA Class AA playoffs and against Selinsgrove in a regular season game this season; and Gregg Garrity, Jr., a wide receiver from Class AAAA state champion North Allegheny. Garrity is the son of Gregg Garrity Sr., who made the diving touchdown catch in the end zone to help Penn State claim the 1983 National Championship.
Several other local football standouts also made their college choices official on Wednesday, National Letter of Intent day for the NCAA.
Mount Carmel tight end/defensive tackle Eric Joraskie made his commitment to Northwestern official. Joraskie was a first-team Daily Item selection at defensive tackle. He had 71 tackles, including 21 tackles for a loss and five sacks.
His teammate Tyler Kwiatkowski is headed to Columbia University.
Lewisburg offensive lineman Kyle Santorine will continue his career at Dickinson. Santorine was a four-year starter on the offensive line for a Green Dragons' squad that has had an unprecedented run of success at the Union County school.
Two Shamokin players have also made decisions. Linebackers Andrew Hasuga and Mike Yucha are headed to play for former Mount Carmel and Bloomsburg University standout Frank Sheptock at Wilkes University.
Mifflinburg offensive tackle Dylan Yost is headed to Lebanon Valley College.
Central Columbia's Eric McCracken, a linebacker, is staying close to home and will play for Danny Hale and the Bloomsburg University Huskies.
Several other players are still considering their choices.
Mifflinburg's Michael Wiand, who missed all year with an injury, is looking to walk-on at Penn Sate or playing in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference for either Bloomsburg or Millersville.
Mifflinburg center Anthony Caruso and quarterback Kyle Failor are considering Lebanon Valley College or Juniata College. Failor ran for 703 yards and six touchdowns, threw for 338 yards and two scores, while also catching two touchdown passes.
Wildcat's defensive tackle Trevor Bowman is considering Kutztown.
Two Bloomsburg High players are also looking to continue their career. John Klingerman, who led the area with 59 catches, 863 yards and 13 touchdowns, is considering walking-on at Penn State or playing in the Mid-American Conference for Bowling Green.
Two-way lineman Kevin Gross will choose between Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg or Susquehanna University.