Meet Penn State’s Newest Star: Carl Nassib
Prior to the start of the season, defensive tackle Anthony Zettel was expected to be the focal point of Penn State’s front four. With the majority of the defensive attention focused on him, the door was open for a new face to emerge.
If you didn’t know Carl Nassib’s name before Saturday’s game against Buffalo, you should now. Nassib is the most recent in a long line of Penn State football players to mold himself into a household name. His path to stardom, however, is quite different than most.
Like a number of Penn State recruits in recent years, Nassib wasn’t highly sought after out of high school. As a senior at Malvern Prep in Malvern, Pennsylvania, Nassib led an above average squad to a record of 7-4 as a two-way player. He wasn’t ranked by any of the major recruiting services, and came to Penn State as a preferred walk-on with no scholarship offers. Nassib came to Penn State drastically undersized, at 6-foot-6, and just over 220 pounds. Naturally, he came into the program needing to bulk up before seeing any significant playing time on the field.
Working tirelessly to grow into his body and keep up with his studies (Nassib hopes to attend medical school after he graduates), he was finally noticed by Coach Bill O’Brien, who offered him a scholarship. Over the next two seasons as a redshirt sophomore and redshirt junior, Nassib was used sparingly, seeing minimal action. This season is a different story, as Nassib has already been credited with two forced fumbles, one interception, four sacks, and 15 tackles over the first two games. After these game changing performances, ESPN named Nassib as an early candidate for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Not only is Nassib a Penn State star on the field, he’s a born leader. Nassib was chosen by James Franklin to the Leadership Council for the 2015 season — and based on his recent performances, he’s clearly taken to the role.
Nassib’s contributions as a player and leader couldn’t come at a better time for the Penn State defense, a unit that lost star defensive end Deion Barnes to the NFL this year. The defensive line was arguably Penn State’s strongest unit, and people were certainly concerned after last year’s personnel losses, and questioned whether or not this group could live up to lofty expectations.
With any luck, this is just the beginning of a fantastic year for Carl Nassib, and all signs point to that being the case. If you haven’t been paying attention to Nassib yet, it’s time to start.