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Penn State Football Preseason Top 10: No. 8 PJ Mustipher

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IT’S JULY

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on.


How He Got Here

PJ Mustipher was a Top 100 recruit, committing to Penn State way back in August of 2017. Mustipher’s commitment was seemingly written in stone, with all eight 247Sports predictions indicating the Lions were the favorite team to beat.

PJ saw time right away, playing in 10 games in 2018 as a true freshman, logging 14 tackles, one TFL, and a forced fumble. He continued his upward trend in 2019, bolstering his stats to 37 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, a sack, and another forced fumble.

In 2020, Mustipher was slotted in at the 3-Tech defensive tackle position, allowing Antonio Shelton to fill the 1-Tech role. In this position, PJ played all nine games, racking up 35 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, a sack, and even managed to bat a pass down. A solid campaign so far, but not yet the “all conference” hopes that some have had for him.

What to Expect in 2021

In a word: excellence.

For starters, with Shelton no longer with the Lions, Mustipher will move over to the 1-Tech position. And weighing in at 6-foot-4, 323 pounds, you don’t get very many more natural builds for a 1-Tech DT. Changing from a “pass rush” DT to a “take up as much space and smash anything that comes close” DT will be a boon for PJ. He’s got the size and athleticism to be an all-conference defensive tackle.

The other thing that will be a bit of a chicken-and-egg setup is the back-and-forth between teams double-teaming Mustipher, which will free up Hakeem Beamon, Fred Hansard, and Derrick Tangelo. Those three are solid DTs in their own right, so if teams attempt to leave Mustipher one-on-one to handle the other defensive tackles, expect PJ to EAT.

Given that Mustipher very well could have gone pro after the 2020 season, expect one last ride into the sunset, dominating interior offensive lines all the way to a career season.