CLEARFIELD — Andrew Janocko grew up on the sidelines. His father, Tim Janocko, has been the head football coach at Clearfield Area High School since the 1980s. Little Andrew was his dad’s helper, always doing whatever he could to aid the Bison football team.
“Every since I can remember, I was going to practice with my dad,” Andrew Janocko. “I was usually the water or towel boy.”
When Janocko was of age, he joined the football team himself. Clearfield experienced a successful run during his tenure. In his sophomore season, they went undefeated. In his junior and senior campaigns as the Bison quarterback, Janocko pioneered the team to two district championships.
Upon graduation from high school in 2007, Janocko enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh and joined the football team as a preferred walk-on – meaning he was recruited or invited to play. He would earn a scholarship in just two seasons.
While at Pitt, Janocko was a part of several strong seasons with the Panthers. He played in 27 consecutive games as back-up QB or on special teams. In 2010, the Pitt Panthers were crowned Big East champions.
Football has always been a bonding experience for the Janocko family. One shining example occurred at just about every game of his Pitt career. Janocko’s father, a Penn State graduate, could always be spotted donning blue and gold apparel in support of his son.
During his time at Pitt, Janocko acquired an interest in coaching. Wide receivers coach Scott Turner, son of long-time NFL coach Norv Turner, took Janocko under his wing and showed him the ins and outs of coaching. It also did not hurt to have someone at home who had a few decades of coaching experience under his belt.
When his playing career ended, Janocko stepped into a graduate assistant position at Rutgers University under head coach Greg Schiano. The very next season, Schiano was hired to be the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – and he took his staff with him. Just two years out of college, Andrew Janocko was a quality control assistant with a National Football League team.
Schiano and his coaching staff were let go just two years later – but Janocko would not leave the NFL for long. In 2014, he was hired to be the quarterback coach at Mercyhurst University.
In 2015, Turner was the QB coach with the Minnesota Vikings. When a position become available on staff, he told the Vikings that Janocko was the man for the job – and they agreed. Janocko become a quality control assistant for the Vikings. In 2017, he was promoted to his current role as an assistant offensive line coach.
“It’s a lot of fun getting to do your craft with the best in the business,” Janocko said. “It’s a pretty cool thing to be from Clearfield and kind of put the town’s name on the map.”
In his role, Janocko is charged with helping plan the running game for the Vikings offense. He studies each defensive player on the opposing team and creates ways for his players to recognize tendencies, strengths and weaknesses.
After an extended postseason run this past season that led them to the NFC Championship Game, Janocko and the Vikings are looking forward to a fresh start this year.
“The NFL season is such a roller coaster ride,” Janocko said. “What you did the year before doesn’t matter, you have to go out and do it again.”
For those from Clearfield trying to live their dream like Janocko, he offers this advice: Don’t listen to people trying to limit you.
“Try to out work everybody,” Janocko added. “Whether you have the best talent or not, that eventually shows up.”
From a little boy on the Clearfield sideline to an NFL assistant, Janocko is humbled by the journey he is on and thrilled to make a career out of football.
“From playing in bowl games to the NFC Championship, I’ve gotten to experience a lot of cool things.”
Janocko and his wife, Natalie, were married in July 2017. They currently live in the Minneapolis area, but return to Clearfield frequently to visit with family.