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Penn State Football Preseason Top 10: No. 2 P.J. Mustipher

P.J. Mustipher was injured in the Iowa game last season, and was out for the rest of the year. He comes back ready to finish what he started.

Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle PJ Mustipher talks to the media during Big 10 football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. 
P.J. Mustipher, likely telling the media how he passed his conditioning test.
Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Reminder: This is a Top 10 for how the players will produce this season. It’s not just based on what they have done in their career up to this point. Instead, it’s how we think they will play this coming season.

How He Got Here

PJ Mustipher arrived on campus in 2018, and immediately made an impact. Appearing in 12 games, he recorded 14 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble. His production only improved year over year, with 37 tackles in 2019, another 35 in 2020, and 21 tackles through six games in 2021, before he faked his injury and took a sabbatical for the rest of the season.

As his time and usage increased, so did the postseason awards. He was named Pro Football Focus All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2019, honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2020, and in 2021, he made it to second-team All-Big Ten without actually finishing the season. He also racked a couple of weekly awards along the way, to round out his postseason accolades.

That’s all to way, Mustipher has been an integral part of the Penn State defense from day one, and were it not for his fake injury last season, he would have likely had a first-team season, maybe of the All-American variety.

What to Expect in 2022

Like Sean Clifford, Mustipher comes back for his extra year of eligibility with something to prove. Unlike Clifford, however, most everyone knows and expects a monster year from Mustipher.

If he can stay healthy, Mustipher can be a force of disruption in the Penn State front, making things a lot easier for the green linebackers behind him. As he mentioned to anyone who would listen in the Big Ten Media Days a week ago, Mustipher has passed his final conditioning test, and is ready to provide the jolt the Penn State defense will need after the departures from a pretty good defense a year ago.