Nov. 12, 2011. Nate Stupar (34) tackles Kenny Bell (80), as Jack Crawford (81) closes in. Penn State fell to Nebraska, 17-14, in Beaver Stadium. (BSD/Mike Pettigano)
Career Stats: 184 tackles (14.5 for loss), 5 sacks, 4 INTs, 12 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 punt blocks.
Nate Stupar caught the attention of Penn State fans in 2008 during his redshirt freshman year. He took advantage of his limited time on the field by making several big plays on special teams as well as in garbage time of a few blowout victories. The State College native would find himself receiving more meaningful minutes in 2009, and finished third on the team in tackles in both 2010 and 2011. A heady and tenacious player, Stupar had a knack for punishing hits and making a big play when one was sorely needed. A true "Grand Experiment" product, Stupar graduated in May with a 3.64 GPA and was a four-time Academic All-Big 10 honoree.
Stupar was able to secure an invite to the NFL Combine, and likely helped improve his draft stock. He had the fastest three-cone time among all linebackers at the Combine (6.84), finished 4th in the 60-yard shuttle (11.64) and 7th in the 20-yard shuttle (4.28). His 40 yard-dash time was a rather pedestrian 4.78, but was able to improve upon this at the Penn State Pro Day by clocking in at 4.63. He was measured at 6-1 and 241 pounds, bulking up by 7 pounds from his listed weight at Penn State.
If love of the game was the only criteria for the NFL draft, Stupar would be top 10 pick in April. Since this is not the case, Stupar will likely have to wait until day three to see if his name gets called. Many draft analysts predict Stupar to go somewhere in rounds 5 through 7. If he does not get drafted, he will get scooped up as a free agent immediately following the draft. Either way, he will get an opportunity to prove himself in training camp.
Whichever NFL team ends up with Stupar will likely be satisfied with the pick. His NFL career seems likely to follow his college football trajectory. He has the ability to contribute immediately on special teams, and should eventually earn a spot in the rotation over time. He may never find his name listed on the All-Pro team, but certainly has the brains, passion and ability to have a long and steady NFL career.