Two-sport athletes are not particularly common in the NCAA, but a few different players out there. Penn State defensive lineman PJ Mustipher is among them.
Mustipher was a key contributor last season, appearing in 12 games for the Nittany Lions. He recorded 14 total tackles, including a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
He also plays for what may be Penn State’s most successful athletic program: Nittany Lions wrestling. He was a four-star defensive tackle, and a two-time Maryland state champion on the mat.
Mustipher is expected to take on a bigger role on the gridiron this season. Franklin thinks his wrestling background should help him excel in the trenches, where strength, quickness, and leverage are everything.
“His improvement from last season, that’s just dramatic, and it doesn’t surprise me because he’s a worker,’’ Franklin said when asked about Mustipher on Tuesday.
“I love wrestlers. Obviously, being here at Penn State with our wrestling program, and (you) see what Cael (Sanderson) does, see how those guys work, how they compete.
“I think it’s a really, really good sport for junior high and high school football players to play. The work ethic and the mentality are so good. And that’s kinda who (Mustipher’s) been. He’s a worker.’’
Mustipher sees it as well, and is ready to take the next step in his football career this fall:
“The game has slowed down for me compared to last year. I was just running wild. Coming out of high school, you don’t really have too much technique. You really don’t know the playbook as well as you should, so the game’s definitely slowed down a bit.
“I’m playing faster, I’m stronger, I’ve got an extra year in the weight room. So I’m ready to take off.”