This weekend’s Penn State-Ohio State contest will be the first Nittany Lions redshirt junior long snapper Chris Stoll will play against the Buckeyes as a scholarship player.
Stoll, a former run-on, was elevated to a starting position last season, but it wasn’t until this month that he learned he earned a coveted scholarship.
Former Penn State and current Minnesota Vikings player Dan Chisena surprised Stoll during an Oct. 9 Zoom meeting with the team. Chisena was a walk-on at Penn State and earned a scholarship in 2019.
“You never know when you’re going to get an opportunity; you never know when your name can get called,” Chisena said during the 47-second clip that was posted on Twitter. “The last thing that I have for you guys is, Chris Stoll, you are on full scholarship, buddy.”
An emotional Stoll buried his face in his hands while his teammates and coach James Franklin congratulated him via video.
“It was a complete shock, complete excitement,” Stoll said. “I always said I wouldn’t cry if it ever happened, but the emotions kind of took over at that point. I’m super blessed, super thankful for Coach Franklin for giving me that. That first call that I made to my parents back home was just amazing to tell them that because they’ve helped me in so many ways.”
Stoll grew up just 15 minutes from Columbus, Ohio, in Westerville. He was a holder and quarterback for St. Francis DeSales High. Stoll began his long snapping career one year later. With the help of a local snapping coach, Stoll refined his craft.
Stoll credits his father, Ken, for instilling the traits of dedication and work ethic.
“What he always preached was it doesn’t matter how good you are, but if you work hard and put in 100% effort and play like your butt’s on fire, things will go well for you – you’ll get noticed and you’ll be respected,” Stoll said.
Once Stoll arrived at Penn State, he said he learned to adapt to the new, independent lifestyle.
“My freshman year I enjoyed the late-night pizza, the Creamery-type lifestyle and got a little overweight,” Stoll said. “I was playing. I didn’t expect to play, but it was still kind of new to me, especially coming in from high school. The journey that I took personally, growing and maturing the last four years. Maturing my body so that I can actually, you know, get on the field and make some tackles.”
As Stoll progressed as a walk-on, Franklin took notice of his work ethic in shedding the pounds in the weight room, strides in his craft and his achievements as a student.
Franklin said when special teams coach Joe Lorig arrived in 2019, Lorig charted a “specific plan” for Stoll, which Stoll met head-on.
“I thought last year he did a really nice job, and we were hoping to be able to give him a scholarship if a scholarship became available,” Franklin said. “As soon as it did, he earned it. He really did. I’m proud of him. I think those stories for college football and for individual teams like Penn State are important. … He’s a starter; he’s a contributor, and has done a fantastic job for us. I’m really proud of him.”
Although Stoll will face his home-state Buckeyes this Saturday for the first time as a scholarship student-athlete at Penn State, he said his recent accomplishment doesn’t amplify this year’s meeting. As he’s done ever since joining the program, he’ll take each game for what it is, and nothing more.
“Last year I was a walk-on and began this year on scholarship,” Stoll said. “To me, I don’t see any difference. I still put in the same amount of time working and going through my process. It’s still that 1-0 mentality, trying to go 1-0 every week, focusing on only this game and not next week or three weeks from now.”