DIamond in the Rough: Gino Gradkowski, OG, University of Delaware

Gino Gradkowski“Gino was ready to begin his venture to the NFL. He signed his letter of intent to play for the West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia University, the campus located in Morgantown, WV, is not far from the Gradkowski family back in Pittsburgh. Gino felt he would have a great shot to play in West Virginia, opening holes for some talented runners for the Big East School.”

“In 2009, after finishing his spring practices with West Virginia, Gino decided to take his talents to Delaware, where he would be given an opportunity to compete for a starting role on the offensive line. It wouldn’t take very long for the aggressive, long armed Gradkowski to make an impact with the Blue Hens.”

Standing at 6’4, 294 pounds, the 3 time All-American of Delaware Blue Hens has had a pretty interesting voyage through his NCAA career.  Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gino was a very gifted athlete, and lettered in both Basketball and Football for Seton-Lasalle High School.  Gino played on both the offensive and defensive Line in High School and collected 15 sacks his senior year. Gino helped lead Seton-LaSalle to the WPIAL Championship as a sophomore and the sectional championship as a sophomore and senior.

Gino has always had a passion for football along with his other siblings, and that all started at a very early age. In 2006, when Gino was a senior in high school his older brother Bruce was drafted in the 6th round (194th pick) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bruce was a standout quarterback, three-year starter, and All-MAC selection at Toledo and has played in the National Football League with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006-07), Cleveland Browns (2008), Oakland Raiders (2009-2010) and is currently on the Cincinnati Bengals roster. 

“It was awesome [having Bruce in the NFL], because growing up I was his biggest fan. It was great to see him make it. Many people had many knocks on him, they said he had problems with arm strength, size, but he battled through the adversity and with work hard he made it. I am glad I got to see it, because I will be ready for them naysayers as well.”

Gino was ready to begin his venture to the NFL. He signed his letter of intent to play for the West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia University, the campus located in Morgantown, WV, is not far from the Gradkowski family back in Pittsburgh. Gino felt he would have a great shot to play in West Virginia, opening holes for some talented runners for the Big East School. 

“I committed before my senior year, it was down between Pitt and WVU. It was close enough if I needed anything I could go home, and West Virginia was winning more at the time. I wanted to go somewhere I could win.”

Gino redshirted his freshman year in 2007 and was part of the scout team going into his first year. Gino did not see game action and retained freshman eligibility. WVU went 11-2 and defeated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl for head coach Rich Rodriguez.

Gino GradkowskiIn 2008, as a Redshirt Freshman, Gradkowski saw action in the first game against Villanova, as a back-up linemen and helped the Mountaineers get their first win of the season, securing a 48-21 victory. Although the season started off great for Gino, it wouldn’t get any better. He was not played the rest of the year while playing in a back-up role. This was the first year of Bill Stewart in West Virginia after head coach Rich Rodriguez left WVU for Michigan. Gino had a decision to make at the end of the year, and although it was not an easy one, Gradkowski decided it would be best to transfer to another school and get more playing time.

“The coaching change was hard for me, because I was in a good situation with Coach Rodriguez at West Virginia. It wasn’t looking good for me when Coach Phillips took over, I was only going to get one year as a starter, for me it was about football. I have such a huge passion for the game, it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to play, and I am glad I left.”

In 2009, after finishing his spring practices with West Virginia, Gino decided to take his talents to Delaware, where he would be given an opportunity to compete for a starting role on the offensive line. It wouldn’t take very long for the aggressive, long armed Gradkowski to make an impact with the Blue Hens.  Gino came into Delaware camp projected to open pre-season drills as No. 3 center behind sophomore Rob McDowell and redshirt freshman Chad Davis.  After a few weeks Gino to took over the right guard position for Delaware and started all 11 games.

Gino was ready to show the world that there was more than one Gradkowski that had pro talents. He became a dominate force on the line by showing off his versatility. He reminds of Eric Wood of the Buffalo Bills, a mean gritty Offensive Lineman that gets a second burst after contact. He is a beast pulling and can lay a hit on the move. In 2010 he helped the team finish with a very strong 12-3 record, and led the Fighting Blue Hens to the National Championship, in which they lost to Eastern Washington. Gino was named Offensive Lineman of the year by his coach and won all-conference honors in his junior season.

His senior seasons was a good year for Gino, he started all 11 games, including eight at guard and three at center.  He was only the second lineman in Delaware history to win back to back all-conference honors since 1968 (Conway Hayman). Gradkowski has been a staple of the Delaware running game the past three years, and although he is a bit inconsistent he is still a very good blocker. He is a pretty gifted athlete, who is built well to stay inside at guard, has good balance, keeps his hands inside, drives his blockers back in the run game, and sets up well as a pass blocker.

As far as being personable and well rounded, Gino should do just fine when it comes time for interviews at the Combine. Gino Gradkowski should impress NFL scouts and GMs with his football IQ and likeable personality.  So when you hear the name Gino Gradkowski, think of a deserving 3 time All-American guard from Delaware, a fierce interior lineman, and yet another Gradkowski ready to make a name for himself on Sundays.

Quantcast