Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rmu's Tkach Produces on Field

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rmu's Tkach Produces on Field

Article excerpt

Choosing the proper uniform number playing youth league football can be tantamount to success; as an aspiring linebacker growing up in Steelers Nation, there are only a few of the must-have numbers that particular position requires.

Number 58 tops the list.

"Ever since I started playing rec football, that was my number," said Jake Tkach, a senior linebacker at Robert Morris. "I wanted to play linebacker way back then. My mom is a huge Jack Lambert fan and when you're that young, you really don't know what number to pick. I started wearing No. 58 all the way back then.

"As I got older I started watching Jack Lambert film and I love how he played ... very aggressive. I like to think that I play with his mentality -- you have to beat the [heck] out of the guy trying to block you. He's awesome."

As a 6-foot, 245-pound middle linebacker in a 3-4 Colonials defense, Tkach has been living up to the No. 58 tradition.

A graduate of West Mifflin Area High School, Tkach is third in tackles at Robert Morris with 56, just one behind co-leaders Andy Smigiera, a sophomore defensive back, and Mike Stojkovic, and is tied for 10th in the Northeast Conference.

He also shares the team lead with Stojkovic, a senior linebacker, in tackles for loss with six.

"Jake can see the triangle, see the guards to the running back and he's got very good command of where the running play is going to happen," first-year coach John Banaszak said. "He just has a knack for the football."

But that "knack" was a long time coming.

As a senior at West Mifflin, Tkach was an all-conference selection out of the Class AAA Big Eight Conference (now the Big Nine). Little did he realize, however, that that 21-13 first-round playoff loss Nov. 5, 2010, at Montour in his final high school game would be the last time he would see the playing field for nearly three years.

Mired in a numbers game at Robert Morris, Tkach, a West Mifflin resident, was stuck on a depth chart at outside linebacker behind some talented players for the Colonials and did virtually nothing but practice for three years.

He saw no playing time as a freshman, did not play as a sophomore and played in only one game as a junior last season. …

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