Quite simply, the position has not been an integral part of the Seminoles' passing attack in recent years. FSU has completed 105 passes this season, and only two of those have gone to tight ends. Last year, Seminole tight ends accounted for just six of the team's 184 receptions.
FSU hasn't had a pass-catching threat at tight end since 1997, Melvin Pearsall's senior year. Instead, the Seminoles use their tight ends more as blockers.
"I know the last couple of years they haven't thrown to the tight end, but you have to look at the opposite (side) in that maybe they haven't had the athlete (at tight end) to throw the ball to," Stupar said Wednesday. "I love catching the football."
At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Stupar is quite the athlete. And, yes, he can catch the football, too. Stupar, who has grown up in the shadow of Penn State in State College, Pa., and has bloodlines to the Nittany Lions, has 36 receptions for 380 yards this season for State College Area High School. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Stupar also has one of the team's three passing touchdowns this season.
"We like to run the ball in the red zone," Stupar said and laughed.
Considered the nation's No. 8 tight end, Stupar will make an official visit to FSU this weekend for the Notre Dame showdown at Doak Campbell Stadium. Stupar will be joined by his father Steve, his mother Cheryl and two younger brothers, Nathan and Robbie. The trip will be Stupar's first to Tallahassee and second to the state of Florida – he attended a Super Bowl in Miami as a child.
"I am very excited – I can't wait," said Stupar, who will depart Pittsburgh Saturday morning following his prep football game Friday.
"FSU has been a top 10 program ever since I can remember. Mr. Bowden is getting up there in victories and he may pass JoePa (Penn State coach Joe Paterno). FSU has always had a winning football program and Florida has to be a great state to live in, too. I am really looking forward to this trip."
Stupar, who is fully qualified with a 3.5 grade-point average and 1035 SAT score, admits he grew up wanting to play for the Nittany Lions. Who could blame him? His father Steve played at Penn State from 1976-79, as did his three uncles, including quarterback Jeff Hostettler, who went on to transfer to West Virginia and play in the NFL.
Stupar simply said the "timing wasn't right" at Penn State, which features a pair of highly-recruited redshirt freshmen at tight end. Still, Stupar said he received a tour of the Nittany Lion's football facility by Paterno and enjoyed the visit. "I always had envisioned myself playing at Penn State up until last year," said Stupar, who is personable and polite.
He also likes North Carolina State, UCLA, Maryland and Boston College. Stupar said he first heard from FSU recruiting coordinator John Lilly after sending the Seminoles a highlight tape last summer. Like all FSU fans, he watched in agony as FSU fell 28-27 to top-ranked Miami two weekends ago.
"FSU should have won that game," Stupar said.
Stupar, 18, who also starts at defensive end and has seven sacks, enjoys golf and basketball as well. He also played baseball as a freshman and contemplated running track this spring. Instead, Stupar plans to "lift weights and concentrate on getting bigger and stronger."
There's no arguing FSU can benefit from Stupar's athletic ability. FSU senior Patrick Hughes was considered one of the nation's top high school tight ends, but he has caught just six passes as a collegian. Paul Irons, a sophomore, was a guard in high school and has caught one pass. During fall drills, redshirt freshman Matt Henshaw was moved from quarterback to tight end. He has good hands, coaches say, but still needs to put some weight onto his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame.
FSU coach Bobby Bowden has repeatedly said quality tight ends are an unique combination of receiver and blocker. "They're hard to find, to be honest with you," Bowden said earlier this year. Well, the Seminoles' answer just might be found under the nose of Penn State.
"FSU was one of the first to contact me and offer when I sent out (video tape). I am really looking forward to coming down there," Stupar said.