P.J. Mustipher was in the eighth grade when his older brother Sam signed with Notre Dame. He watched the four-star offensive lineman navigate the recruiting process and he plans to take a similar approach to finding the best fit for him when he graduates in 2018 from McDonogh High School in Owings Mills, Md.
“I thought he had fun with it,” said P.J. Mustipher, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive tackle prospect. “That’s the same thing I want to do with it but also find the best school that fits me.”
The younger Mustipher is off to a quick start.
“It’s a humbling experience because you see guys still working for their offers,” Mustipher said. “You can’t take it for granted. I have to keep on working and keep on doing what got me here.”
Mustipher has been to Notre Dame several times but only once as a recruit. He accepted an Irish invitation last fall to attend the Stanford game and during that visit he had the opportunity to get to know several members of the coaching staff.
“It’s a great place. The history of that place is incredible. There’s no other college like it in the country. I love the atmosphere. The fans are crazy and the game day is not comparable,” Mustipher said. “I went as a recruit for that game and I got to talk to coach (Scott) Booker and the defensive line coach and one of the coaches that’s now at Ohio State, I talked to him a lot. They said they look forward to recruiting me. Coach Booker also came down to the school in the winter time or spring. They said they love how I’m looking right now and they can’t wait for me to mature and get older so they can pick up the recruiting.”
Mustipher has learned a lot about the Irish from his brother but he also knows he has to find the best fit for himself.
“He told me to do what’s best for me because we’re not the same person; we like different things so he told me to do what’s best for me,” Mustipher said. “All options are open so if Notre Dame happens to look best to me that’s where I’ll go.”
Mustipher plans to attend Notre Dame’s opener against Texas on Sept. 5 and has already visited West Virginia, Penn State and Ohio State. He is tentatively scheduled to see Michigan State and Tennessee this fall.
As a freshman, Mustipher opened with the starting offensive line but shifted to defense during the year. He is being recruited as a defensive tackle.
“I’m very explosive and quick off the ball,” he said. “I have great technique. I love to use my hands because you don’t have to be really that strong with your technique if you can use your hands. I need to just keep improving on staying low and stuff like that.”
With his brother at home this summer, Mustipher learned what it’s like to work against a college offensive lineman.
“I was just doing some one-on-ones with him before he left,” Mustipher said. “We got after it. He’s very powerful and quick off the ball. When you go to college, I don’t know what happened. He’s very quick off the ball. He was when he left but now it’s crazy. I had to get out of my stance really quick and just go hard.”
Sam Mustipher is expected to compete for playing time at center this season.
“He definitely wants to get out there and compete,” P.J. said. “I think they have him at second string center but anything can happen. He’s definitely going out there with a chip on his shoulder. He wants to play.”