Approximately four months ago, many of us espoused the physical and football gifts of Penn State's starting defensive tackles, Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson. The two big men up front had garnered a ton of press headed into the 2015 football season, rightfully so, and would be the focus of many an opposing team's offensive gameplan. Some of us predicted that this would open up an opportunity for one of the many talented defensive ends on the Nittany Lion roster to make an impact on the field.
Suffice it to say, none of us expected quite the impact that senior former walkon, whom Bill O'Brien once thought wouldn't be able to handle continuing to play football at Penn State, Carl Nassib has had on the 2015 Penn State defense.
Sean Spencer (@SpenceChaos) December 15, 2015
Nassib has been this year's feel-good story in Happy Valley, and feel-bad story for opposing quarterbacks. Even though he missed almost all of the last game of the regular season, and all but some of the first defensive series in the last home game against Michigan, he still remains the season sack leader in FBS--by two sacks. He put up numbers that would be gaudy for any player, let alone one playing in essentially only ten games on the year: 31 tackles (15 solo), 15.5 sacks for 107 yards, 19.5 tackles for loss, 6 forced fumbles (double the next closest player on the team), 1 interception that he returned for 10 yards.
And the pundits have taken notice of Nassib's impressive year:
- Winner, Ted Hendricks Award (top defensive end; first Penn Stater to win)
- Winner, Rotary Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker; also won by Bruce Clark in 1978)
- Winner, Lott Impact Trophy (for defensive IMPACT player of the year)
- Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (Devon Still, Michael Haynes, and Courtney Brown are past winners)
- First Team All-American (AP, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Football Writers Association, CBS (Bruce Feldman), Athlon, Sporting News, Walter Camp, American Football Coaches' Association)
- Second Team All-American (USA Today)
The Penn State program itself also recognized Nassib's impact on the squad this season, naming him both the team's Most Valuable Player and the defensive MVP.
And though for some reason the Big Ten saw fit to name Ohio State's Joey Bosa, last year's conference defensive player of the year, the Big Ten's 2015 defensive lineman of the year, despite Nassib being named the DPOY (because that logic makes sense), Nassib beat him out for almost all of the awards and teams they were both up for--Bosa was not named first team for Sporting News, the Associated Press, Football Writers' or Feldman's polls.
Nassib is undoubtedly headed for a career in the pros, and will likely be selected as early as the second day of the draft. If his health permits, he'll likely join teammate Jordan Lucas--if not Zettel as well--at the Senior Bowl, and watch his draft stock rise even more.