The Tyler Palko File – Part Two


Tyler Robert Palko

Born – August 9, 1983 in McKee’s Rocks, Pennsylvania.

Parents – Son of Sally and Bob Palko. Sally works for the international healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline in their consumer healthcare headquarters in suburban Pittsburgh. She played two years of college basketball at Montana Tech University. Bob is the head football coach and physical education teacher at West Allegheny High School. He began his coaching career right out of graduation from Montana Tech, working as an assistant coach at Jeannette High School for eight years, Seton LaSalle High School for two years and Duquesne University for three years. He became head coach at West Allegheny in 1995 and is in his 17th season leading the Indians program.

Siblings – Tyler is the oldest of three children. Younger brother Luke played college football as a wide receiver and punter at St. Francis (Pa) College and now serves as a scout for the Arizona Cardinals, working the Midwest region out of his home in New York. Baby sister Amy played volleyball at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, graduating with a degree in marketing and is now working at Dick’s Sporting Goods corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Hometown – Lived his earliest years in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, and then grew up in Imperial, located just a few miles due south of the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport and 15 miles southwest of downtown Pittsburgh. The 2010 Census placed the population of Imperial at 2,541 people living in a town that is 3.1 square miles. 


Palko graduated as a member of the class of 2002 at West Allegheny High School, a school with approximately 1,000 students in grades nine through 12. He received numerous honors for his scholastic achievements.

Along with football, where he earned four letters, Palko won three letters in basketball and one in track & field.

His parents did not allow him to play organized football until he was in the sixth grade. But whatever ground he may have lost from not taking part in peewee leagues, he gained as the son of a football coach. When he went to the ninth grade at West Allegheny, he won the starting quarterback job and held it for four years, where the team had a 48-7 record with Palko as the starting quarterback.

1998 – As a freshman, he led the Indians to a 10-2 record and into the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, beat Elizabeth-Forward 37-6 and losing to Highlands 21-11. He threw for 700 yards.

1999 – West Allegheny finished 13-1, winning the WPIAL AAA championship with a 37-12 victory over Belle Vernon and then beating Pittsburgh Perry High in the state semifinals. The Indians fell in the Class AAA state championship game to Strath Haven High School 21-7. He threw for 1,440 yards.

2000 – The Indians finished 13-2, winning the WPIAL AAA championship by beating West Mifflin 21-7. West Allegheny then beat Wilmington 37-7 to reach the state Class AAA championship game for the second consecutive season. They lost again to Strath Haven 31-28 in what is considered one of the most exciting state championship football games in Pennsylvania history. He finished 97 of 168 for 1,396 passing yards with 18 TD throws and ran for 604 yards and 11 TDs.

2001 – As a senior, Palko led the Indians to a 13-2, the WPIAL AAA championship with a 23-6 victory over Hopewell and then victories in the state playoffs over Pittsburgh Perry 28-14 and Strath Haven 28-13 to win the state Class AAA championship. In that title game that snapped Strath Haven’s 44-game winning streak, Palko was 14 of 20 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown, and he also had an interception on defense. On the season, Palko went 134 of 225 for 1,887 yards and 18 TDs as a passer and ran for 628 yards and eight TDs. On defense, he had over 80 tackles as a safety with four interceptions. He was also the team’s punter.

Palko finished his high school career with 5,553 passing yards and 1,681 rushing yards. During his high school career, Palko was selected by the Associated Press as the 2001 Pennsylvania Big School Player of the Year and was a three time first-team member of the AP’s all-state team. He was named to the second team All-America squad of USA Today. He was the third time winner of the WPIAL Class AAA Player of the year award handed out by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper, and he was named player of the year by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper.

He played in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio, a game that featured the top 74 graduating high school players in the country. Other players in that game included Vince Young, Nick Mangold, Haloti Ngata and Kamerion Wimbley.

Palko also played in the annual Big 33 All-Star Game that features the best of Pennsylvania playing a squad that is the best of Ohio, Texas, Maryland or sometimes the entire country. In that game on July 20, 2002 at Hersheypark Stadium, Pennsylvania beat Ohio 40-17. Palko threw touchdown passes of 66 and 70 yards on the first two offensive plays for the Pennsylvania team. The receiver on both plays was now Chiefs teammate Steve Breaston. Palko ended up hitting 3 of 7 passes (all to Breaston) for 172 yards. Breaston was named the game’s MVP with 3 catches for 169 yards and he returned four punts for 122 yards.


He was considered a four-star recruit coming out of high school and several national scouting services had him ranked among the top 10 quarterback prospects in the country. Others in that group according to were James Banks (Indianapolis), Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, FL), Trent Edwards (Los Gatos, CA), Reggie McNeal (Lufkin, TX), Ben Olson (Thousand Oaks, CA), Isaiah Stanback (Seattle), Marcus Vick (Newport News, VA), Vince Young (Houston) and Justin Zwick (Massillion, OH). He was also recruited by several schools to be a defensive back.

Palko was listed at 6-2, 205 pounds and ran a 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash. He was recruited by most of the major football programs in the East and Midwest including Michigan, Virginia, Penn State and Pittsburgh – those were his final four schools. Ohio State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Miami, West Virginia and Georgia Tech also showed a great deal of interest in him.

Pitt actually gave him a scholarship offer when he was a high school sophomore and ultimately it came down to the Panthers and Nittany Lions. He gave his verbal commitment to Pitt head coach Walt Harris in June of 2001 before his senior season at West Allegheny.


Palko graduated in May 2006 with a degree in communication and rhetoric and then took courses in economics during the fall of 2007.

On the football field, he was named second-team All-Big East Conference three times and was selected as the Panthers team captain in his last three seasons. He was on the honors list for the Davey O’Brien Award that goes to college football’s best quarterback.

2002 – As a true freshman, Palko saw limited playing time for head coach Walt Harris. Pitt finished 9-4 and beat Oregon State in the Insight Bowl. He played in six games, completing two of three passes. His first action came against Ohio University when he threw one pass. His first pass completion went for seven yards against Texas A&M. Against Rutgers, he directed the Panthers to their final touchdown in a 23-3 victory. In the Insight Bowl, he ran for an eight-yard TD in Pitt’s 38-13 victory.

2003 – Spent a red-shirt season on the sidelines, as the Panthers finished 8-5 and lost to Virginia in Continental Tire Bowl.

2004 – He became Pitt’s starting quarterback in his redshirt-sophomore season, leading the team to an 8-4, including losing to Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. He guided the Panthers to five victories that were achieved either in the fourth quarter or in overtime.
He had his career passing day against South Florida, throwing for 411 yards and five touchdowns. But the game where he made his mark was in South Bend against Notre Dame. Palko threw for 334 yards and five touchdowns against the Irish. No one has ever thrown five scoring passes against the Fighting Irish in Notre Dame Stadium. He later threw for 380 yards vs. Furman, 342 yards against Syracuse and 318 yards against Rutgers. He went 230 of 409 for 3,067 yards, 24 TD passes and 7 INTs.

2005 – Under new Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt, Palko retained his starting duties and the Panthers finished the season with a 5-6 record. He threw for 371 yards and 4 TDs vs. Rutgers and for 308 yards against West Virginia. On the season, he was 193 of 341 for 2,392 yards, with 17 TD passes and 9 interceptions.

2006 – Palko started all 12 games and the Panthers finished 6-6 on the season. He threw for 313 yards and 4 TDs vs. The Citadel. At the end of the season, he threw for 341 yards against West Virginia and then 307 yards vs. Louisville. He had a stretch in the middle of the season of 118 consecutive passes without an interception. Palko finished the season completing 220 of 322 for 2,871 yards, 25 TD passes and 9 INTs.

One Response to “The Tyler Palko File – Part Two”

  • November 19, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Let’s hope he can recapture some of that Western PA magic when he takes the field in New England. I won’t be holding my breath but wish him well and hope he can pull it off.

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