PITTSBURGH — If you wandered into Pine-Richland’s weight room a couple of years ago, you might have happened onto a skinny tight end named Andrew Kristofic. At the time, Kristofic was just some lanky kid growing into his body and beginning to scratch the surface of his prodigious talent at the end of his freshman year.
Nowadays? He’s a 6-foot-5, 275-pound monster with offers from Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, and most of the other top programs in the country. Kristofic has blossomed into an elite tackle with one of the best offer lists in the country.
“He’s got a huge ceiling as an offensive tackle,” Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz told Land of 10. “He’s 6-foot-5 and he’s 275 pounds. He’s very raw and still has a lot of room to put muscle on his frame. He’s got an extremely long wingspan. He’s an athletic kid – ex-quarterback, ex-tight end, now he’s a tackle. He’s a hoops players and he’s extremely athletic, so I think he’s a dream as a left tackle.”
After nearly a year of experiencing – at times enjoying and others, enduring – the recruiting process, Kristofic is preparing to wrap this thing up.
“I want to commit as soon as I feel comfortable doing it. It’s kind of been a long process, so I’m now in the process of making a decision and making sure I find the school that I feel comfortable excited about,” Kristofic said. “I want to take my time looking over everything – I’ve been on a lot of visits and talked to a lot of people for a long time, so it’s kind of taking everything in now and processing it all.”
Kristofic has notched nearly 30 scholarship offers, but four programs have managed to stand out from the crowd.
“As of right now, I really like Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Those would be the four schools I feel best about,” he detailed.
It’s been around six months since Kristofic last visited Wisconsin, but the other three programs on that list have all received unofficial visits from the Pittsburgh-area offensive lineman. Trips to Ohio State (Jan. 27), Notre Dame (March 27), and Clemson (April 7) have set the tone in Kristofic’s recruitment lately.
The Buckeyes, Irish, and Badgers have been mainstays in Kristofic’s recruitment since the fall, but Clemson’s arrival as a serious contender is a new development. His Feb. 1 offer from Clemson and subsequent April unofficial visit have made the Tigers a force in this battle.
“It was an awesome trip to Clemson. I had high expectations going into it and they exceeded all of those expectations. It was a great trip. The pictures and everything, they don’t do it justice to how amazing that place is. It’s easy to see why they’re so successful whenever you talk to all of those guys that are down there,” Kristofic explained. “They have a whole bunch of lakes right on campus. Campus is beautiful in and of itself aside from the football stuff. And even all of the football stuff – that’s brand new, it’s all state-of-the-art.”
As noted above, Kristofic is closing in on making his commitment. It wouldn’t surprise me if his decision came before the end of April, but you may also see programs try to push for official visits from the blue-chip tackle.
Notre Dame is the perceived leader for Kristofic, owning 100-percent of 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions after a successful unofficial visit and years of relationship-building. Ohio State and Clemson may attempt to get Kristofic to take more visits to change his mind on that front or change the momentum here.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to [take more visits] or not. If anything, it would just be re-visiting those four schools and making sure I have the good feel again when I go back,” Kristofic said. “I wouldn’t say I’d visit any new schools at this point, not this far along at least.”
With Kristofic’s reveal that he’d be locking into his final four programs and going into decision mode, I asked the Pennsylvania native to break down each of those finalists and explain what the appeal of those programs are.
Ohio State – “With what they’re doing right now and producing guys at the next level is just top of the charts. The NFL and everything like that are great. The resources and everything they can provide you with are great. I feel super comfortable and like all of the coaches a lot.”
Clemson – “They’re like the hottest team in the country right now and they’re trending upwards. They’re really at the top right now. Like all of the schools, I feel very comfortable with the coaches and program.”
Wisconsin – “What Wisconsin does for offensive linemen is unbelievable. I feel like that’s a great school in general and I feel really comfortable with all of the coaches there.”
Notre Dame – “Notre Dame has lots of Pittsburgh guys and there’s a lot of comfort level with having so many guys from this local area up there. That’s another plus for them, I would say.” [Author’s note: Among those former Pittsburgh natives is 2018 Pine-Richland graduate and All-American quarterback Phil Jurkovec, Kristofic’s teammate and close friend.]
Although he’s ranked as only the No. 50 tackle in the 2019 class and the No. 516 prospect overall in the 247Sports composite rankings, it’s clear that Kristofic’s offer list and potential greatly outweigh that ranking. Coaches and players close to him consistently praise his growth as a player over the years and marvel at how much more he can still achieve.
“With Kristofic, he’s tall and he’s got a great frame. At times, that becomes an issue with mobility, but honestly he’s gotten a lot better from where he was,” Pine-Richland assistant and strength and conditioning coach Ed Malinowski told Land of 10. “I think he’s becoming an extremely powerful lineman because of what he’s done in [the weight room].
“I think the one thing that Kristofic does really well in my opinion is that he moves in space very well for a big guy. I think a lot of that has to do with playing basketball. Honestly, I couldn’t define his ceiling. He does a lot of things incredibly well. I don’t think there’s a whole lot that he doesn’t already do incredibly well. If he can add some more size and a little bit more upper body strength, that’s about the only thing he needs to add to his game.”
I currently have my Crystal Ball prediction placed on Notre Dame for Kristofic, but I’m going to continue to monitor this recruitment closely. I think the Irish have the edge if he had to decide tomorrow, but Ohio State and Clemson seem to be within striking distance and could make Brian Kelly and company sweat if they secured additional visits from Kristofic.
Regardless, he is one of the best prospects to come out of the Pittsburgh area in recent memory, joining names like Jurkovec, Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, Pitt’s Paris Ford, and Penn State’s Lamont Wade. The Buckeyes are also recruiting Western Pennsylvania prospects like 2019 cornerback MJ Devonshire and 2021 athlete Derrick Davis Jr., who have offers, and 2019 defensive back Joey Porter Jr., who does not.