Metea Valley football has only been playing at the varsity level since 2010, and during that time there have been quite a few players to go on to play at the collegiate level. But few Metea graduates have played under a brighter gridiron spotlight than former Mustang left tackle, Bryce Effner. Find out more about Bryce’s journey in this Where Are They Now? presented by Advantage Acura.
A three year letterman for the black and gold, Effner anchored the left side of the offensive line, thwarting would be pass rushers with his 6’5 270 lb frame. A two-time All Conference pick, team captain and team MVP in 2017, Effner also lent his skills to the other side of the ball, plugging holes in the middle as a defensive tackle.
As a junior in 2016, the big Mustang cemented his status as a high end Division I talent, protecting the blind side of Payton Thorne, the current starting quarterback for Michigan State. Effner’s work at left tackle bought Thorne time to connect with his favorite wide receiver, Jayden Reed, another current Michigan State Spartan.
The following offseason, Thorne and Reed transferred to Naperville Central to finish their high school careers, while Bryce Effner became the first Metea Valley football player to sign with a Power 5 program, with his commitment to Penn State University.
When playing at the highest level of collegiate football, it can take a while to become prepared mentally and physically for the challenges of the Big Ten conference. Bryce redshirted his first fall in Happy Valley in 2018, spending the next two years bulking up to 305 lbs and playing a role in special teams.
As a redshirt junior in the fall of 2021, the former Metea Valley star finally saw the hard work pay off with increased playing time throughout the season. Effner has seen plenty of snaps for the Nittany Lions this season, showing his versatility at both left guard and right tackle. Going head to head against the likes of Auburn, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State are the things athletes dream of when they start playing football as kids.
With potentially two seasons of football eligibility remaining, there is plenty of time for #72 in blue and white to make his presence felt on the gridiron and potentially earn a starting role on the o-line. While there will be plenty of future Power 5 players to come from the Metea Valley football program, Bryce Effner will always hold the significant distinction of being the first.
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Justin Cornwell.
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