If you’re an interior offensive lineman tasked with taking on 6-foot-5, 282-pound defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher from Owings Mills, Md., you better set your mind straight before you take your first snap.
If you aren’t prepared for a 12-round heavyweight fight, you’re in for a full day of pain and frustration because Mustipher is a highly-motivated, grizzly bear of an interior defensive lineman.
Bring your lunch pail and whatever else you need to withstand the physical punishment Mustipher is prepared to unleash upon you.
This is a strong, aggressive young man who will play hard every snap. Whereas Notre Dame has had guys like Daniel Cage with stamina issues on the interior, Mustipher comes to play on every snap. Stamina should not be an issue.
Mustipher establishes the line of scrimmage/point of attack. It is extremely difficult to keep him blocked because he refuses to yield ground. His strength really shows itself once he crosses the face of an interior offensive lineman. If you lose leverage on Mustipher, it’s lost for good on that play. You’re not going to regain it.
Mustipher has an exceptional forward lean with an extreme plow-forward mentality. His temperament is tailor-made for interior line play. He uses his hands like anvils. Opponents must come out of games against Mustipher with bruised forearms after he’s bashed them around for 70 plays.
There appear to be some limitations to his game as an interior defensive lineman. He is a two-gap defensive tackle. He doesn’t have the quickness to play three-technique, at least not the quickness of a one-gapper. His change of direction can be a little stiff. Making backside tackles can be a bit out of his range.
As a pass rusher, his pad level can get a little high at times. Although he uses his hands extremely well and has some swim/rip moves to his pass-rush game, his best work is accomplished through sheer strength, which makes it more difficult to get to the quarterback on the next level.
Mustipher has expressed his desire to play defense in college, and make no mistake, there is a place for this guy on defense if you choose to go in that direction. But his assets could be utilized even further at guard, which is where his brother, Sam, began his career at Notre Dame before moving to center.
I see potential pro-level ability at guard whereas there are limitations to his game on defense at the next level. Again, he has assets that would play well on defense, and he’s a better overall athlete than his brother. But his talents, in my opinion, have a much better chance of translating to college football and beyond as an interior offensive lineman.
ND AND FUTURE INTERIOR DL
With Daniel Cage in his final year of eligibility, and Jerry Tillery, Jonathan Bonner and Pete Mokwuah down to two, the future of Notre Dame’s defensive line interior is wide open with bodies quickly filling up roster spots.
Elijah Taylor, Micah Dew-Treadway and Brandon Tiassum all possess three years of eligibility. Only Taylor has made a significant move for playing time, and now he’s trying to bounce back from a significant foot injury.
After that, it’s all players who have yet to don a Notre Dame uniform. Entering the program this summer are nose tackle Darnell Ewell, three-technique Kurt Hinish, and three-technique/strongside end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa. The Irish could use an instant impact player. Ewell is the most likely candidate, followed by Tagovailoa-Amosa. (Hinish probably could use a red-shirt season to improve his size and strength.)
Notre Dame has a verbal commitment in the Class of 2018 from Jayson Ademilola while things looks promising with Ja’Mion Franklin.
With all that talent entering the picture, the Irish could have the luxury of tapping into Mustipher’s versatility. If the Irish don’t land Franklin, signing Mustipher likely would have greater relevance along the defensive line.
SINCLAIR OF MUSTIPHER
“Mustipher has seen all he needs to see and knows all he needs to know about Notre Dame, especially considering his brother Sam is the starting center for the Irish.
“Tennessee, Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State are all in the race as well, although our intel suggests that some of these schools may be losing interest in the four-star interior force.
“In the coming weeks, Mustipher is expected to talk things over with his parents and come closer to a decision. Notre Dame definitely is in strong consideration for his commitment.”