Franklin Regional Graduate Helps Blaze Trail at Ohio University
Knavish, Brian, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A.J. Strum wants to make history -- again.
During his high school days at Franklin Regional, Strum was a big part of the history-making football team that won the 2005 PIAA Class AAA title, the school's first-ever state championship.
Today, Strum is a starting offensive lineman for Ohio University, which is trying to make history of its own when it plays in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Saturday.
It's a chance to make history because Ohio never has won a bowl game. In addition, the Bobcats never have won 10 games in a season. They sit at 9-3, so it's another chance to write themselves into the record books.
"It's a great opportunity," said Strum, a redshirt sophomore. "It's our chance to elevate the program."
Strum admitted he and his teammates were heartbroken after they fell 20-10 to Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference championship game on Dec. 4. However, the chance to play in a postseason bowl game in front of a national ESPN audience and establishing those significant "firsts" for the program has eased the sting a little bit.
"It's definitely going to be an awesome experience, playing in my first bowl game," he said. "I never would have guessed I would be starting in a bowl game already; it's a great accomplishment."
Strum graduated from Franklin Regional in 2007 and opted to take his football prowess to Ohio, a team that traditionally has struggled but has shown a resurgence in recent years.
The 6-foot-7, 287-pound Strum redshirted his first season at Ohio. Last season, as a redshirt freshman, he played just three snaps at tackle.
He entered this season as the backup at left offensive tackle, but when injuries left the team thin at left guard, the Ohio coaching staff called Strum's name.
"He's a natural tackle, and that's where he'll play in the future most likely. But this year, he was behind an All-MAC senior in Chris Rogers, so he obviously wasn't going to get much time," Ohio offensive line coach Kevin Lightner said.
"But we had couple injuries at guard ... and we made the move right before the Bowling Green game (on Oct. 3). Some of the guys that were (backups at guard) were inexperienced, and we thought that A. …