As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at defensive lineman PJ Mustipher, who is ranked as the No. 5 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by 247sports.
School: McDonogh School (Md.)
Projected position: Defensive tackle
Ranking: Four stars by 247sports, Rivals.com and ESPN
Status: Signed LOI in December; expected to enroll Summer 2018
Other offers: Alabama, Duke, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
Projection: It hasn’t been long since Penn State has had a truly dominant force in the middle of its defense, but Mustipher is evidence enough that the Nittany Lions won’t have to wait much longer to see another in a line of brilliant tackles. He’s so light on his feet that interior offensive linemen often have trouble getting a hand on him, and he’ll attack a gap quickly, making him potentially a pretty good pass rusher as well as a good run stuffer. But he’s big enough and strong enough to also line up over the center and occupy several blockers. Mustipher registered 45 tackles, 17 TFLs, 14 sacks and two forced fumbles as a senior, and that’s with plenty of offenses designing their schemes away from where Mustipher lines up. He was the 2017 state heavyweight wrestling champion in Maryland, which helps to explain why he’s so elusive and downright slippery for blockers, and that’s a trait that will help him at the next level. He’ll only get better as he adds strength, and he might be the most sure bet in this recruiting class to have a successful Penn State career. He’ll compete immediately for playing time, even if the staff would like to see him add some of that weight and strength during a redshirt season.