The left tackle is one of the most important and prestigious positions in all sports. Their job is to protect the most valuable asset, the quarterback, and the future of their team. It’s called the ‘blind side’ of the quarterback’s vision. The left tackle shields the quarterback from defenders they won’t see coming — their blind spot. Peter Skoronski, the true freshman left tackle stud, has risen to the occasion, and his play has been pivotal to the Northwestern Wildcats’ success this season.
Listed as a 6-foot-4, 275 pound offensive lineman, Skoronksi played football at Maine South High School in the suburbs of Chicago. He was raised not too far from Evanston, and he grew up a Northwestern Wildcats fan.
“To be able to represent the purple on Saturday has been really awesome and special to me and my family,” Skoronski said. “These are times I’ll never forget.”
While many fans are just learning of his prowess, Skoronski comes from a long line of greatness. His grandfather, Bob Skoronski, was a captain and starting left tackle of the five NFL Champion Green Bay Packers teams under the legendary Vince Lombardi.
On May 19, 2019, Peter Skoronski verbally committed to Northwestern while turning down offers from elite football programs like Notre Dame, Stanford, Penn State and Michigan. According to 247Sports, Skoronski was the second-best prospect out of Illinois and fourth at his position nationally. With his commitment, he became the best offensive line commit in Northwestern Wildcats program history and the fourth highest recruit in the Pat Fitzgerald era.
Skoronski was elated to attend Northwestern, and told 247 Sports in January: “I just love the combination of academics and athletics. I think it just came out that they have the highest graduation rate of any sport for any school. They’re also a great football team. They were in the Big Ten Championship last year and have won three-straight bowl games ... It’s just a place I think I fit into well and I’m just happy to be able to go there, it’s a good spot for me as a person and a player.”
Once he arrived in Evanston, like most freshman, he felt somewhat behind. But from day one, Skoronski has impressed with his maturity, preparation, strength and intelligence. During quarantine earlier this year, he connected with offensive line coach Kurt Anderson to run through some of the offense.
“[Coach Anderson] walked me through the offense and that really helped me a lot,” Skoronski said. “Once I got to campus, I already knew a lot and was ready and able to contribute rather than starting fresh.”
While he trained for the eventual opportunity, he suddenly got a lot more attention when on Aug. 20, Northwestern’s top offensive lineman in the nation and potential first-round pick Rashawn Slater opted out of the season to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft. This left an enormous hole on the offensive line, and sports analysts and fans were ready to write Northwestern off and endure another dreadful season.
As a result, Skoronski was immediately thrown into the fire to replace Slater and has shined, guarding graduate transfer quarterback Peyton Ramsey and helping the offense click for the first time in years.
Although he may not be with the team physically, Slater has been a solid resource for Skoronski for his first year playing in the Big Ten.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy, I mean it’s Big Ten football,” Skoronski said. “Rashawn’s been a really great resource for me. We interacted over the summer and had a couple of practices together. Even with him gone, he’s still helping and texting me advice, telling me what I can do better. Obviously, he’s been really great and useful given that he’s one of the best lineman in the country, and even though he’s gone, I feel really lucky to have him as a resource.”
Before Skoronski, Slater was the last offensive lineman to start for Northwestern as a true freshman. Though he may be young, Skoronski has looked like a veteran on the left side of the line. Collectively, the offensive line has become a strong point of Northwestern’s offense with the help of the young freshman.
In high school, Skoronski set an unofficial state record of 171 career pancakes, and he’s continued to rack them up in college, impressing both his teammates and coaches. Throughout the season, he has flashed his first-round potential and has done an outstanding job of protecting Ramsey’s blind side.
Speaking with the media on Nov. 30, Pat Fitzgerald named Peter Skoronski the offensive player of the week.
“He’s been absolutely outstanding as a true freshman. I don’t think I’ve spoken enough about him coming into the Big Ten as a freshman and playing left tackle the way that he has," Fitzgerald said. “Honestly, we could have probably named him player of the week a couple of times already this year. We’re really proud of Peter.”
Skoronski has also gotten attention from the rest of the Big Ten and was named third-team All Big Ten just this week. For Skoronski, however, the honor is nothing compared to the opportunity to win the conference in Indianapolis this weekend.
“The ultimate goal is to win a Big Ten Championship, and that’s where my mind is focused,” Skoronski said.
The Northwestern Wildcats will face off with the Ohio State Buckeyes this Saturday in the Big Ten Championship for the second time in three years, and Skoronski is more than ready for the biggest game of his career.