Monday, Aug. 7, provided a moment of perspective for Penn State after landing a commitment from four-star Maryland defensive lineman P.J. Mustipher.
Mustipher gives the Nittany Lions five recruits in the 247Sports Composite top 100 overall for the 2018 class. They signed five top-100 prospects in James Franklin’s first four classes combined.
The Lions coach and his staff have been able to capitalize on their surprise Big Ten championship season to attract some of the nation’s top players. As a result, they’re on track to sign their best class since 2006.
With the addition of Mustipher, the No. 98-ranked player in the country and the No. 6 defensive tackle, Penn State moved back ahead of Texas for the No. 3 class nationally.
Mustipher joins fellow top-100 recruits in New Jersey wideout Justin Shorter (No. 18), Virginia running back Ricky Slade (No. 26), Virginia offensive lineman Nana Asiedu (No. 63) and Camp Hill tight end Zack Kuntz (No. 91).
A 6-foot-5, 290-pounder out of McDonogh High School in Owings Mills, Maryland, Mustipher chose the Lions over Maryland, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Ohio State. His older brother, Sam Mustipher, returns as the starting center for the Fighting Irish this fall.
Mustipher also held offers from Alabama, Miami, Michigan and Virginia Tech, among others. He is the eighth player to come aboard since Penn State’s annual Lasch Bash recruiting event in mid-July.
For a defensive tackle, Mustipher shows surprising agility and was extremely disruptive as a junior, recording 15 sacks, 47 tackles and four forced fumbles for McDonogh.
His work in the trenches has also been boosted by his impressive resume on the wrestling mat. Mustipher is the reigning Maryland Class A state champion at heavyweight.
Mustipher is the third defensive lineman in the class along with New Jersey’s Dorian Hardy and Florida’s Judge Culpepper, both of whom play rush end in high school.
With the Lions’ 2018 class now at 22 members, space is rapidly running out. NCAA rules put a 25-recruit cap in place each year, though there are exceptions that can allow teams to add more.
More notable is the 85-scholarship limit for the entire roster. The fact that the Lions are heading toward such a large class indicates they expect a good deal of attrition to hit next offseason.