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Judge Culpepper’s Wild Personal Life Prepping Him For Bigger Defensive Role

Penn State football’s Judge Culpepper isn’t your average defensive lineman.

The redshirt sophomore had a fascinating upbringing that likely shaped his remarkably likable personality. Culpepper could easily become a Nittany Lion fan favorite if he has the “breakthrough” season he thinks he’s poised for.

The defensive tackle met with the media for the first time on Tuesday and spoke about his eccentric personal life. His uniqueness starts with his first name, “Judge,” which belongs to just under 2,000 Americans, according to howmanyofme.com.

“Yup, it’s my legal name,” Culpepper said with a smirk. “My great grandad was a judge in Florida. He was Judge Culpepper, and my dad kinda liked the way that sounded, so he named me Judge Culpepper.”

You might know his dad, Brad Culpepper, who was a consensus first-team All-American at Florida and a nine-year defensive tackle in the NFL. Although he retired around when Judge was born, he’s still been able to pass some of his knowledge down to his son, especially when he switched from tight end to defensive tackle.

“Lately he’s been pretty hands-on,” Culpepper said. “He’s been really instrumental [in] this three month period we’ve had. We used to go to the field all the time and work bags, and work hand things, and just talk through stuff…I’ve really taken a lot of that stuff that he’s been talking about and trying to implement it in my game.”

Although his father has played a big role in his development as a football player, Culpepper’s mom helped him develop toughness and a competitive drive just as much. Both of Culpepper’s parents were contestants on CBS’ Survivor. A specific memory he has from the show was during a “food challenge” where his mom was tasked with eating unorthodox foods.

“She smoked a bunch of other people in it,” he bragged. “She was eating like grub worms and cow eyeballs and a bunch of crazy stuff…I always knew my mom was tough, like eating grubs and cow eyeballs. That’s no easy feat.”

His whole family is tough, in fact. In addition to his father, his brother is a cancer survivor (and a quarterback at Syracuse) and his mom is “a badass” and “tougher than [his] dad.” It’s no surprise that the grit doesn’t stop with him. Culpepper will be fighting for playing time in an already-deep d-line room. Established guys like Antonio Shelton and PJ Mustipher, as well as younger talents like Fred Hansard, will bring tough competition.

“This offseason, I’ve been really focusing on getting stronger and getting faster,” he said. “I put in a really good body of work…and I feel like I’ve come out a lot bigger and a lot more ready.”

Culpepper said he “absolutely” feels like he’s on the verge of a breakthrough season. He added that he’s excited for what’s ahead and more than prepared for a bigger role on defense.

Culpepper grew up surrounded by success. His next-door neighbor growing up in Tampa? Derek Jeter. His current neighbor? Tom Brady. He also met former NFL stars like Mike Alstott and Warren Sapp through his father, who played on the Buccaneers for five seasons. Culpepper said Jeter is an “awesome guy” and noted he’s had casual conversations with Brady.

“It was honestly crazy the first couple of days, like there’s a million people driving by and news people,” he said about Brady. “I’ve waved [to Brady] across our docks…he was talking to us about boat stuff.”

Although Culpepper’s family life has delivered a not so normal upbringing, that might end with him. He’s currently studying history, wants to be a lawyer, and spent his high school years volunteering at a camp for kids with muscular dystrophy.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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