McDonogh’s PJ Mustipher, one of the top high school defensive tackles in the country, committed Monday evening to play football at Penn State.
Rated the No. 4 overall player in Maryland’s Class of 2018 and the No. 98 player in the country by 247sports.com, the four-star prospect was one of about 150 players nationwide to attend the prestigious invitation-only recruiting event, The Opening, in Oregon in June. He is ranked the No. 6 defensive tackle in the country.
Mustipher, 6 feet 5, 290 pounds, opted for Penn State over Notre Dame, Maryland, Tennessee and Michigan State. The Nittany Lions program just had “the right feel” as well as a “family atmosphere,” he said.
“They’ve been recruiting me since I was 14-years-old, so I have great relationships with them. I think the biggest thing for me was that Penn State has it all... [Defensive line] coach Sean Spencer, me and him, I feel as though we’re going to do something special in the Big Ten. I think the ‘D' line they’re putting together up front is going to be able to take over and I have a lot of trust in him and where he’s going to take my talents one day.”
As a junior, Mustipher was one of the Top 10 nominees for The Baltimore Sun’s 2016-17 Male Athlete of the Year after being named first-team All-Metro in football and wrestling. In football, he had 15 sacks, 47 tackles, four pass break-ups and four forced fumbles for the No. 3 Eagles. He followed that with a 39-8 wrestling season that included 15 pins, as well as Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and Maryland Independent Schools titles at 285 pounds.
On a long list of college coaches’ radars for a long time, Mustipher follows his brother Sam, a Notre Dame center, to a top Division I football program.
He turned to his big brother for advice throughout the process.
“He’s been there, he’s done everything, he’s heard everything, so whenever I need advice, I can just go to him,” he said. “It’s really helpful to have him.”
Notre Dame was on the younger brother’s short list, but he said that while Sam gave him all the advice he asked for, he never pressured PJ to follow him to South Bend.
“Sam never wanted me to go to Notre Dame just because he was there. He never tried to push me toward going to Notre Dame. He always wanted me to do what’s best for me and that’s why I love him so much. He knows we’re two different people and much credit to him because he’s a great older brother who didn’t try to sway me one way or the other.”
Over the summer, Mustipher visited State College and also took two visits to Maryland, but he hadn’t set a deadline for his commitment.
“I never had a timeline but I talked to my parents every week about where we were going to go and we had some long conversations,” said Mustipher, whose father, Sam, played at West Virginia. “I was going to do officials but I just wanted to be able to focus on my senior season and being with my guys one last time, so that’s why I did decide to commit. I didn’t see any reason to wait. God gave me a great opportunity and I’m happy with my decision.”