Long wait over for Penn State fifth-year senior Nassib
In 2011, Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib was part of Joe Paterno's final recruiting class. No one, obviously, knew that at the time.
A fifth-year senior, Nassib acknowledged the challenges and difficulties of the ensuing turmoil. He also emphasized that all of it helped shape him as a person and football player.
“It kind of teaches you to roll with the punches, and fight through adversity and appreciate what you have, and just work every day no matter what the circumstances are,” he said.
Nassib is playing for his third head coach and staff. He started out as an undersized, 218-pound walk-on before earning a scholarship from then-coach Bill O'Brien in 2012. He saw limited action over three seasons.
With the departures of Deion Barnes and C.J. Olanyian, and having made the most of his limited time last season, Nassib finally is a starter. After watching tape during the winter, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said he and other coaches wondered if Nassib should have played more.
“He was a very productive player,” Shoop said.
Coach James Franklin said Nassib had a “sneaky, quiet, really successful year.”
Nassib, whose brother, Ryan, started at quarterback for Syracuse and is a reserve with the New York Giants, is listed at 6-foot-7. He is up to 275 pounds after adding 20 since last season.
“He's got length, he's got speed, he's got athletic ability,” Shoop said. “He's very driven. It wouldn't shock me at all if he has the type of year he's capable of doing, he ends up being a guy who's a potential all-league candidate and a guy who can play at the next level for a few years.
“He bats down a lot of passes,” Shoop added. “He's kind of hard to block because he has a lot of unique movements to him. He's not a wrestler but he's almost like a wrestler. It's hard to get a good shot on him a lot of times. He has a unique way of escaping the block and showing up in the backfield and making the play.”
Working his way from walk-on to reserve to starter entailed “a lot of preparation, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of hard work,” Nassib said.
“People think we just show up on Saturdays in these nice jerseys and hit people,” he said. “But 365 days a year, we're working hard.”
Nassib is scheduled to graduate in December with a degree in biology. Medical school has long been on his radar, but Shoop believes the NFL also looms as a possibility.
“I'm not saying he's J.J. Watt,” said Shoop, referencing the Houston Texans' superstar defensive end who bulked up and walked on at Wisconsin. “But the story's like that. Here's a guy who I think is going to be one of the breakout players in the Big Ten.”