Four-star defensive tackle PJ Mustipher is Happy Valley-bound as a key piece of an impressive ensemble of reinforcements to Brent Pry’s defense. At 6’5″, 295 lbs., Mustipher was an imposing force on the defensive line for McDonogh School during his high school career and is expected to do the same while donning the blue and white. However, his success isn’t limited to the gridiron.
Ranked the top heavyweight wrestler in Maryland, Mustipher was 39-8 with 15 falls and a state title, in addition to placing fourth at National Preps during his junior season last year. Having to cut down to wrestle at 285 lbs., Mustipher has similar measurables as physical freak No. 2 Adam Coon of Michigan, who stands at 6’5″, 280 lbs. and was a decorated prep linebacker and lineman.
Cornerbacks coach and defensive recruiting coordinator Terry Smith praised Mustpher Wednesday during Penn State’s early signing period media day.
“We’re really excited about him,” Smith said of Mustipher, whose older brother, Sam, is a senior center at Notre Dame. “The last big-time wrestler we had was Mike Hull, who we all loved, and hopefully he can follow in those footsteps.”
Mustipher didn’t take his official visit to Penn State with the rest of his class’ signees, because he was competing in the prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio. Mustipher placed second in the tournament, losing to the nation’s No. 3 heavyweight wrestler in the finals. Coincidentally, Penn State wrestling recruit Seth Nevills had been set to compete in his bracket but was held out due to a skin condition.
Although Nevills seems to be the heir apparent to his brother Nick’s starting job in Cael Sanderson’s lineup, that doesn’t mean Mustipher should necessarily hang up his headgear for good after he finishes defending his MIAA and MIS titles this winter.
Heavyweight is a tough weight class to fill, especially for a true freshman as Seth Nevills would be in two years. As it is, Penn State only currently carries four heavyweights in Nick Nevills, Jan Johnson, Alex Nicholas, and Ethan Wissler, who is also light enough to also wrestle at 197 lbs. The three backups are a combined 7-22 in their college careers. During Nick’s redshirt freshman season, he had trouble getting on the mat and football player Johnson picked up the sport again to help out the team, although his return to the mat was an unceremonious 1-9.
If the football depth chart becomes a bit of a logjam with so many big name recruits joining forces in Happy Valley as of late or if Penn State wrestling runs into the exact opposition issue like it did in the fall of 2015 without any heavyweights available, Sanderson won’t have to look too far.