An ILR student outside of football, senior Steve Valenta will be getting down to the business of intimidation when he hits the newly FieldTurf-ed surface of Schoellkopf Field for his final year as an anchor of the offensive line.
With excellent footwork and more than adequate size — at 6-6 and 309 pounds, he is one of the line’s biggest bodies — the three-year starter at left tackle has been a force in paving the way for the Red’s vaulted rush offense. Even without injured rushing leader Luke Siwula, the team averaged 118.9 rushing yards rushing last year — which resulted in 21 touchdowns — compared to the 22 sacks allowed by the Cornell line.
With the graduation of standouts Ted Sonnenberg ’08 and Brian McGuire ’08, Valenta will take on the role of leading the offensive line’s efforts this season. Other than junior Quentin Bernhard III, who started every game last year at right tackle along with Valenta, the Red OL is a little short on veteran starters.
“Our offensive line is our most critical area that we need to see improvement in,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87 to cornellbigred.com. “Steve Valenta is a true pro prospect and one of the best offensive linemen in Division I-AA. He can be dominant and has taken the steps needed to be dominant consistently.”
Valenta has been a consistent presence for the Red line, experience which will come in handy against opposing defenses. Cracking the starting lineup in four games as a freshman before losing the rest of the season to injury, the two-star Rivals.com prospect out of Orland Park, Ill., is now on a 20-game consecutive starts streak and got over the hump last year by netting second-team All-Ivy honors.