Syracuse transfer Moskal powers Penn at linebacker

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(Sue Ogrocki/AP)

After a brief flirtation with Penn's football program, Lake Zurich (Ill.) linebacker Colton Moskal committed to Syracuse after his junior year in high school.

Penn wanted to add the 6-foot, 225-pound inside linebacker - as did coaching staffs at Yale, Minnesota, Purdue and a number of other schools - but once Moskal committed to Syracuse, the Quakers moved on.

But Moskal, who never rose above the scout team as a freshman in 2014, realized that climbing the depth chart at Syracuse would be difficult. Also, he was focusing more on life after football.

So when Moskal decided to transfer, Penn coach Ray Priore put in a call the folks at Syracuse.

"He reached out to us as all transfers do," Priore said of Moskal, who transferred to Penn last spring. "We called up there and the first thing they told us was they didn't want him to go. As soon as they said that, we thought: We want him here."

Penn's case was helped by Syracuse ties in its program. First-year offensive coordinator John Reagan was a three-year starter (offensive line) and a Syracuse captain in 1993. Assistant athletic director/football operations Jake Silverman is also a Syracuse graduate.

Moskal made up his mind that he wanted an Ivy League education. Penn (1-1), Cornell and Dartmouth (2-0), Penn's guest this weekend in the Ivy opener for both, were the only schools he considered.

"The Syracuse connection definitely helped," Moskal said. "That and I felt really comfortable with the staff."

Moskal leads the Quakers in tackles (17) and is tied with fellow linebacker Donald Panciello - the Ivy League defensive player of the week - with two tackles for loss.

Dartmouth, picked by some to win the Ivy League, has averaged 40 points a game and provides another stern test. Last week, Penn pulled off a historic upset, defeating Villanova for the first time in 104 years, 24-13, at Villanova Stadium. Penn's victory marked the Quakers' first road win in program history over a team ranked in the FCS top five.

Priore was promoted to head coach at the end of last season after Al Bagnoli left to coach at Columbia. He said the upset has helped to focus his team, and he does not expect a letdown.

"It builds trust and belief in what you are trying to do," Priore said. "It hammers home all the details we want them to get about the little things, accountability and execution."

jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer