This feature story on Andrew Podbielski originally ran in the program for Bucknell's game against Monmouth on Sept. 30, 2017.
Entering his senior campaign, expectations were high for Andrew Podbielski.
“Andrew has the opportunity to be one of the better tight ends in the Patriot League,” said head coach Joe Susan. “He’s very athletic, and we’ll use him in a lot of different ways. He’s also one of the hardest workers on our team in terms of how he applies himself during practice and within games.”
Through the years, the 6-foot-4 tight end has worked hard to become a steady, dependable blocker. Susan said that’s an aspect of Podbielski’s game that has evolved the most during his time at Bucknell.
“I take pride in my blocking,” Podbielski said. “I consider myself a blocking tight end first and foremost. It’s something I’ve worked really hard at. This year, I’ve tried to take on more of a leadership role when I’m on the line of scrimmage so I can help our offensive line continue to grow and develop.”
At the same time, Podbielski has begun to be utilized more as a receiver. In Bucknell’s first three games, he racked up 103 receiving yards, just 58 shy of his 2016 total and 33 off his 2015 mark. Against Marist, he led the Bison with a career-best 60 receiving yards, bolstered by a career-long 31-yard reception that set up the game’s final touchdown. He also caught his second career touchdown pass at William & Mary.
“I’ve always been a big part of the offense, but it’s still nice getting the ball more than usual,” Podbielski said. “Our new offensive coordinator, Bobby Acosta, really focuses on tight ends. He told us coming into the season we were going to be a big part of the offense. It’s great he’s having us do more because our position group is really deep. We’re all capable of taking on more responsibility, and it’s shown so far.”
Bucknell’s depth at the tight end/fullback position was on display in Sept. 23’s victory over Sacred Heart. With Podbielski and junior Andrew Owers sidelined due to injury, freshman Alex Twiford and junior Marcus Ademilola stepped into their roles. Ademilola caught a 24-yard pass on a 3rd and 8 that helped set up John Burdick’s game-winning field goal while Twiford finished with 24 yards on two receptions.
“They did a great job, and I’m really proud of the way they played,” Podbielski said. “Being a senior, I tried to help them out, coach them up on the sidelines so they could make adjustments throughout the game. That made me feel good, but I still want to get back out there as quickly as I can. Coaches always say they would do anything to play again, and now I know what they mean by that.”
Before the Sacred Heart tilt, Podbielski last missed a game in week 11 of his freshman campaign. His starting streak, which dated back to Sept. 19, 2015 and was the third longest on the team, was snapped at 23 games. While Podbielski admitted he was disappointed to have been held out of the lineup, he took the opportunity to reflect on what his starting streak meant to him.
“Coach Susan always says, ‘Prepare like you’re the starter,’” Podbielski said. “When you come in here, you’re expected to do a lot. The coaches throw you right into the fire. At Patriot League schools, where you have a smaller roster, you never know when your number is going to be called, and you have to be ready. Since my freshman year, I’ve had that mentality of I can be the starter, and that helped me step up and take the role as a sophomore. I was ready; I prepared hard, knew the playbook and had good experience under my belt from practicing against the seniors on the scout team my freshman year.”
During his time at Bucknell, Podbielski has also excelled in the classroom as an environmental studies major. A two-time member of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll, he also earned coveted spots on the Academic All-Patriot League and CoSIDA Academic All-District teams as a junior.
“It’s about applying yourself and being dedicated day in and day out,” Podbielski said when asked what has contributed to his success. “As any student-athlete here will tell you, you have to have good time management skills to be able succeed both athletically and academically. My first semester at Bucknell, it was tough going from high school to college. It was a real culture shock at first. But, after I adjusted, I was able to do well.”
Asked what his plans are for after graduation, Podbielski chuckled and admitted he doesn’t have any yet.
“Like a lot of people, I have no idea what I want to do,” he said. “I’d like to do something with my environmental studies major, but I’ve also been looking into going into law enforcement, with the Pennsylvania State Police or something like that. It’s still up in the air.”
What’s not up in the air is Podbielski’s goals for his final campaign in the orange and blue.
“I have the same goal as the rest of my teammates,” Podbielski said. “We want to win the Patriot League. That’s what we talk about all the time. Personally, I’d like to be one of the best tight ends in the Patriot League, and that hasn’t changed even though I got hurt. Right now, I’m working hard to get back out on the field and pick up where I left off because I had a few good games under my belt.”
The Podbielski File
- 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team
- 2016 Academic All-Patriot League Team
- Made 23-consecutive starts at tight end from Sept. 19, 2015 to Sept. 16, 2017
- One of six Bison seniors who enter the Monmouth game with at least 20 career starts
- Led Bucknell with a career-high 60 receiving yards in 2017 opener against Marist
- Needs 100 receiving yards to reach 500 in his career