Player Spotlight: Carl Nassib

Story posted October 23, 2015 in CommRadio, Sports by Jeff Jezewski

Expectations were high in Happy Valley for the Penn State defense to replicate its performance from 2014. With defensive linemen Austin Johnson and summer sensation Anthony Zettel returning, pundits had every reason to believe in Bob Shoop’s unit. However, after an unprecedented start, former walk-on Carl Nassib has become a force and the nation’s leader in sacks.

The brother of NFL quarterback Ryan Nassib, Carl arrived on campus in 2011 as a preferred walk-on. For Carl, having a brother in the NFL who’s been through the rigors of college football has certainly been helpful.

“He helps me out so much. He's such a level-headed guy and such a smart guy. He just helped me out with the way to hard work and the way to just ignore the noise, whether it's good or bad, and he's done such a great job of that,” Nassib said.

Having a brother in the NFL, a father that played college football and a cousin who played college football, Nassib was asked who he thought was the best athlete in his storied family. Ever humble, Nassib tagged his seven-year old nephew as the best of the bunch.

Now 6-foot-7, 272 pounds and a member of the ESPN mid-season All-American team, Nassib didn’t start a single game in his football career until the season opener against Temple. So how has a player who didn’t start at Malvern Prep make the jump to the nation’s leader in sacks?

“Coach [Sean] Spencer has helped me out an unbelievable amount of times, Coach [Bob] Shoop and Coach Franklin have always believed in me. I'm so thankful for them and so thankful for my teammates for working so hard,” Nassib said.

The former walk-on made his collegiate debut against Syracuse inside MetLife Stadium in 2013. Nassib went on to appear in 23 games over 2013 and 2014, recording 19 tackles and two sacks. While respectable numbers as a reserve player, none of that was an indication into what was coming next.

Just receiving a scholarship prior to the 2013 season is accomplishment enough, but the hard worker that Nassib is has found a way to thrive. He’s gone from a guy who wasn’t even viewed as good enough to receive an offer to one of the most dominant forces in college football. As a former walk-on, Nassib knows just how important hard work can be.

“I would love to be a role model for walk-ons and for four-star players, whatever that stuff means. It would be awesome to be a role model for hard work, and especially for walk-ons because it is difficult, and it's hard to see where all this hard work is going when you don't see results for four or five years,” Nassib said.

It’s that hard work and that drive from the West Chester product that really earns the respect of his head coach James Franklin.

“You talk about a guy that kept kind of pounding away with a sledgehammer on a stone with very little success -- and kept pounding and kept pounding and kept pounding and kept pounding and started to create some fractures,” Franklin said.

Nassib certainly has created fractures in opposing offenses to the tune of 11.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles.

Ask Nassib to describe himself and he’ll say he’s laid back and hilarious, however a nickname from his past has returned around the Penn State football team. “Crazy” Carl has become a staple for the talented defensive end.

“The first time I got called that was in ninth grade, I don’t know how it resurfaced,” Nassib said.

Why “Crazy” Carl?

“I think I'm a pretty laid-back person, but on game day I get pretty passionate and into it, or other euphemisms that I won't choose today,” Nassib said.

You can see the passion that Nassib exudes on game day in his ferocious play on the field. Nassib may be tops in the nation in three different defensive categories, but of course, none of that matters to the senior.

“The only stats that matter to me are wins and losses at the end of the week,” Nassib said. “Any success that I have is chalked up to my teammates and my coaches, and it's been a privilege playing with this team.”


Jeff Jezewski is senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email