Maine South's Skoronski -- humble in life, fierce on the field
There has to be a Lombardi connection.
"You know what ... there probably is," Peter Skoronski said, as if something clicked right then and there. "I never even thought about it like that. But I think that's right.
"I've always prided myself about being very humble and that is something that Vince Lombardi really pushed. Maybe that's where it comes from."
Skoronski, a highly-touted and fiercely recruited 6-foot-4, 275-pound two-way lineman for Maine South, isn't like your typical elite high school recruit.
He certainly looks the part. He's got size and strength and insane explosiveness for a lineman. But self promotion doesn't appear to be in his DNA.
Skoronski grew up with old-fashioned football values in the family. His dad Bob Jr. played college football at Yale. His grandfather Bob Sr. played at Indiana, and then for years in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers under the legendary Lombardi.
The old-school values of Lombardi, who spoke often about discipline and mental toughness and even humility, seemed to trickle down from one generation of Skoronski men to the next.
Maybe that explains why this young Skoronski is a bit buttoned up about himself, never talking even to his friends about his many achievements.
Maybe that also explains how Skoronski never tweeted once during the entire time his recruiting was open about how #blessed or #grateful he was for all of the accolades and all of the dozens and dozens of top tier scholarship offers he got. Not once.
His one and only recruiting-related tweet came on May 4 when he tweeted simply that he was "Committed!" to Northwestern, where he will play on the offensive line.
"Peter is an extremely humble person. I mean, extremely. He doesn't like talking about himself," Maine South football coach David Inserra said. "I think it's just the way he grew up. And I think that comes from his grandfather. Lombardi wanted all of his players to be not only disciplined but humble. Call it old school."
Skoronski calls it, well, him. Being humble is just what and who he is.
"I'm not someone who likes to talk about myself and I guess today, that is kind of unique," Skoronski said, referring to today's relentless social media culture in which many people post all of their comings and goings. "My parents told me that I didn't need to tweet a lot during recruiting because it was a personal situation and a personal decision. But I agreed with that. That's not something they forced on me. I just felt more comfortable kind of keeping quiet.
"I know some college coaches were frustrated that I didn't tweet, and some people in the media were, too. But you know, the minute you say something about yourself and put yourself out there, immediately you have a target on your back and people are ready to pounce on you. I'd rather operate under the radar and keep things to myself."
But Inserra suggested that Skoronski do just a little bit of media.
With straight-As all through high school, the respect of his teammates as a thoughtful and genuine leader and the blessings of some of the best physical skills of any lineman in the country, Inserra believed Skoronski's story needed to be told.
"He's not going to like it that I'm saying this ... but Peter is the best player that I've ever coached," said Inserra, who has coached dozens of college players and has led Maine South to four state championships since 2001. "We've had a lot of great players here -- quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs. We have been so blessed that we could name more than a Top 5 list or a Top 10 list, probably a Top 50 list. But Peter is at the top. He has everything. He has size, and the kind of explosiveness off the ball that he has for his size and age is incredibly rare. His technique is also flawless. Then he also has incredible work ethic. No one outworks Peter. He's also a leader. And his academic qualifications are amazing.
"When you put it all together, Peter is special. Forget about a special football player, he's just a very, very special person."
Skoronski, who was blown away by Inserra's comments, and, of course, "humbled" by them, is hoping to use his influence to help lead Maine South to a special season.
The Hawks are in an unusual spot, 0-2 to start the season. But Skoronski remembers what happened when he was pulled up to the varsity for the 2016 playoffs during his freshman year. That team started 1-2, lost a total of three games during the regular season, but still won the state title, defeating Loyola in the Class 8A championship game.
"It was unbelievable to be a part of that and I want us to get there again and it falls on me to be a leader to our younger guys," Skoronski said. "I want my teammates to respect me for my work ethic and leadership. I think they do."
Mostly though, Skoronski wants to be respected for being a good person. Inside the locker room and out.
"I'm always working to be a good teammate and a good person," Skoronski said. "I don't want to be seen around school as some mean, scary football player that everyone is afraid of. I just want to be a good guy."
Not that Skoronski would ever tell you that he is.
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw