“I just have been trying to fill in a leadership role like Deion [Barnes] and C.J. [Olaniyan] had on the D-line,” Nassib said. “They were very great role models for us.”
Get To Know Carl Nassib: Penn State’s Newest Defensive Standout
If you don’t know the name Carl Nassib by now, get ready to hear it quite often this fall. Nassib, a fifth-year senior defensive end, is primed and ready to take up the burden as a key contributor in the Nittany Lion pass rush. There is more to Nassib than his 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame, though. His drive and unparalleled work ethic during his five-year career have positioned him to make an impact.
Coming in as a freshman, Nassib didn’t even know if he would be on the team, let alone become starter. Nassib hails from West Chester and a family of athletes. His older brother, Ryan, is a quarterback for the New York Giants and played college ball at Syracuse. His father, Gil, played football for the University of Delaware, and his younger brother John is currently a junior defensive end for the Blue Hens.
As a senior at Malvern Prep, he was only 215 pounds, and had no major college offers. As an 18-year-old, he put it on himself to compile a highlight tape and send it personally to Ron Vanderlinden, Penn State’s linebackers coach at the time. The tape caught the attention of the coaches, and Nassib was given a walk-on offer in 2011. Over the next few years, Nassib would work his way forward, scrapping and clawing to eventually earn a scholarship from Bill O’Brien.
“To be quite honest, I didn’t have that many offers at all. At that point in my life, I was maybe focusing more on med school,” Nassib, a biology major, said during spring practice earlier this year. “I was thinking about that, and then I was presented with the opportunity to come to Penn State and I was like ‘Oh, definitely coming here. This is a dream for me.'”
Coming into college, Nassib realized the only thing holding him back was his size; he needed to get bigger to play defensive end in the Big Ten. When he got to University Park, Nassib became a gym rat, bulking up 55 pounds over the course of his career. His play on the field, however, is where the true transformation from walk-on to budding star came. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop described him, quite simply, as “a beast.”
Though the numbers haven’t jumped off the page in limited time, Nassib is primed to bust out in 2015. He appeared in 10 games, recording 12 tackles (11 solo), two tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and a pass breakup in his debut season back in 2013. He continued his part-time production in the 2014 season, with seven tackles (four solo), 3.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and one pass deflection. Most importantly, Nassib became an important contributor on special teams. In a world of scholarship sanctions, depth in that area has been an issue, and Nassib doing the dirty work clearly gained him the staff’s trust.
“We are talking about a guy who showed up here as a 6-foot-5, 218-pound walk-on and now he is a 6-f00t-7, 273-pound scholarship starting defensive end that I think is going to have a break-out year for us,” James Franklin said following the Blue-White game. “I am so proud of him.”
There are some qualities an athlete needs to possess that simply can’t be taught, and Nassib’s leadership and work ethic are part of what set him apart. Just recently, Franklin named Nassib to his 2015 Leadership Council, a group of 25 football players who exemplify the characteristics needed to set an ideal standard for the other players on the team. Essentially, they act as the voice of the program.
On Saturday, during the Blue-White game, Nassib lined up with the first-string defense, recording one tackle for loss. It’s still early, but Nassib may just be the best kept secret on the Penn State defense. Everyone should be prepared to keep their eyes on number 95, especially opposing quarterbacks.
Photo: Mark Selders/GoPSUSports