Player Spotlight: Nate Stupar
Unlike last week’s player spotlight on London native, Jack Crawford, linebacker Nate Stupar did not have to go very far to get to Penn State. Stupar is a native of State College and attended State College Area High School.
At State High, Stupar was a standout on the football field. He played multiple positions for the Little Lions but stood out most at linebacker. Stupar was named the Pennsylvania Defensive Player-of-the-Year and the Mid-Penn Defensive MVP as a senior. In addition, Stupar was selected as first-team all state by the Associated Press during his junior and senior seasons.
With the recognition Stupar garnered in high school, he was considered one of the top defensive prospects in Pennsylvania. Stupar made the decision to stay in his home town and play for the Nittany Lions.
Stupar followed in the footsteps of his father and uncles to play for Joe Paterno. His father, Stephen Stupar, played offensive line at Penn State from 1976-1979. In addition, Stupar had three uncles play for the Nittany Lions: Ron and Doug Stupar and Jeff Hosteller.
Hosteller started his collegiate career at Penn State before transferring to West Virginia and later playing quarterback in the NFL for New York Giants, the Los Angeles/Oakland Rams, and the Washington Redskins. Stupar’s brother, Jonathan, also played college football as a tight end for Virginia. Jonathan is currently in his fourth season with the Buffalo Bills.
Stupar has been a consistent player for the Nittany Lions since his arrive on campus. Stupar has been a force on special teams his entire career. He blocked two punts during his redshirt freshman year and has made several other big plays for the kickoff team and punt block team.
Each year, Stupar has seen an increased role on defense. As a sophomore, Stupar made his first two career starts and as a junior Stupar made seven starts. Stupar was third on the team with 73 tackles, recording 6.5 tackles for loss (minus-28), with two sacks, one interception, a forced fumble and four pass breakups last season.
Coming into this season Stupar was expected to compete for the starting spot at outside linebacker. It was thought that Michael Mauti would be the middle linebacker this season after the graduation of Chris Colasanti. During summer camp, Glenn Carson proved to the coaching staff that he was capable of excelling in the middle, allowing Mauti to remain on the outside.
“I think God has a plan for me and works in mysterious ways,” Stupar said of not earning the starting job. “My dad told me to keep my head down and just be ready for the opportunity. I just need to keep on going every day for the team's sake and my sake."
After Mauti’s season ending injury last Saturday, Stupar again has a chance to step in and start for the Nittany Lions. Stupar commented on Mauti’s injury and the impact Mauti is still having on the team.
"When that injury happened, obviously I was devastated and concerned how he would react,” Stupar said. “A lot of people would be down, but Mike hasn't acted that way at all. He's been uplifting and energetic. Sean Lee did that. It helps us to have someone like that on the squad.”
Now it is up to Stupar to fill the void left by Mauti and keep the Nittany Lions defensive playing at a high level. After Mauti left the game last Saturday, Stupar came in and recorded seven tackles, three of those for loss, and a sack. His impact impressed his teammates.
“Stupar is definitely a leader,” fellow linebacker Gerald Hodges said. “He is very smart on the field. He is just as good [as Mauti]. He is a good athlete and he is a great linebacker.”
“He is one of those players you can count on to not skip a beat,” said defensive end and fellow senior Jack Crawford.
Stupar hopes he can continue to play at a high level and impress his teammates when the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana for the start of Big Ten play this Saturday.
John Bridgens is a sophomore whose major is currently undecided. To contact him, e-mail: email@example.com.
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