Penn State’s 2021 season started to go south the day PJ Mustipher went down.
The senior defensive tackle suffered a season-ending injury early in the Iowa game Oct. 9. The Nittany Lions, who came into that game 5-0 and ranked fourth, ended up suffering their first loss to the Hawkeyes, 23-20.
They’d then go into a tailspin, losing four of their next six to finish the year 7-6. Although Mustipher’s absence wasn’t the only factor in Penn State’s downfall, it certainly didn’t help, evidenced by the fact that Illinois ran the ball 67 times for 357 yards in the Nittany Lions’s first full game without him.
Lying on the Kinnick Stadium turf would have been a sad way for Mutsipher’s college football career to end. Fortunately for both Mustipher and Penn State, barring more unforeseen circumstances, it won’t be how it ends.
The 6-foot-4, 326-pound defensive tackle announced via Twitter Tuesday afternoon that he plans to come back to Penn State for the 2022 season.
— Pj Mustipher (@KingPJ55) January 4, 2022
“My time at Penn State has been better than I could’ve imagined,” Mustipher wrote in a statement. “Each and every day, I’m surrounded by a group of men who are leaders, hard workers and passionate about what they do on and off the field.”
Mustipher’s return is a big boost for Penn State’s defense, who is losing seniors Arnold Ebiketie and Derrick Tangelo. Mustipher will also get to play for new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
Despite playing in just five full games, Mustipher’s play still earned him second-team all-Big Ten honors by the coaches and honorable mention all conference by the media. He had 16 tackles and a solid 72.4 overall grade by Pro Football Focus. He became a regular starter in the 2020 season and was named honorable mention all-conference by both coaches and media at the end of the year.
“I am excited to get back to school and continue my rehab and working with the guys for the upcoming season,” Mustipher wrote at the end of his statement.