Many high school football recruits undergo a position change when making the jump to college, and Penn State OL Vega Ioane was one of them.
After starring as a left tackle in high school, Ioane was switched to the interior early in his freshman season at Penn State.
He credited Penn State’s offensive line coach, Phil Trautwein.
“It’s always tough, of course,” Ioane said. “It’s a tough environment to be in, but it worked out pretty good … It’s all on Coach Trautwein. He teaches everything very well. I trust the plan he has for us.”
Prior to Penn State, Ioane anchored Graham-Kapowsin High School’s offensive line. He earned a second-team MaxPreps All-American selection. His efforts helped the Eagles to an undefeated 15-0 record and a Washington Class 4A state championship as a senior.
Penn State moved Ioane to left guard, then to right guard.
With Trautwein’s help, Ioane appeared in four games as a true freshman this past. He played against Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan State and in the Rose Bowl against Utah.
Ioane’s action against Minnesota, which came with many starters still on the field, caught the attention of Penn State’s coaching staff. The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder blew open a hole at right guard. This allowed Nick Singleton to break a 30-yard touchdown run.
We'll finish with this. #71 True Freshman Vega Ioane with a pancake block. Look at #64 Nourzad & #70 Scruggs again. Beautiful
— Hardcore Penn State Football (@HardcorePSUFB) October 26, 2022
Ioane said Trautwein “made me better by the way he coaches.”
“He really takes pride in the little details of everything,” Ioane said. “He talks about that a lot.”
Trautwein’s skillset and mindfulness helped the now-veteran coach build an impressive resume while playing at the University of Florida from 2004-08, also as a left tackle.
The Gators won two BCS National Championships and a pair of SEC titles during Trautwein’s playing tenure, coming in 2006 and 2008. Trautwein earned a second-team all-conference selection after the first title run and a first-team nod after the second.
Trautwein then played four seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers. After that, he moved into coaching. The 2023 season will be his fifth at Penn State and 12th overall as a coach.
Ioane feels Trautwein’s playing experience helps him in getting points across to his linemen.
“Being on a championship squad, he comes in every day with a championship mindset,” Ioane said. “We talk about it a lot in our unit group. He takes us through that it takes to be a champion.”
After getting compliments from head coach James Franklin about his performance in limited action last season, Ioane could contended for more playing time— perhaps even a starting spot— for Penn State this fall.