“Linebacker U will always thrive as long as Penn State is still a university.”
Too often nowadays when players are being poked, prodded, and ruthlessly analyzed in preparation for the NFL Draft, evaluators tend to overlook the intelligent, hard-working, driven prospects in favor of the “big and fast” physical specimens. While linebacker Nathan Stupar doesn’t qualify as the latter, players such as himself will always have a place in the National Football League. Like hundreds of players, Stupar has been busy getting ready for the next stage of his football career, and even found the time to get engaged as well.
Coming from a very athletic family with a strong football background, the State College, PA native opted not to sever the roots that tie him tightly to Happy Valley, as he chose to attend Penn State in 2007. Fast forward to 2012 and Nate Stupar leaves the program after a productive collegiate football career. While so much uncertainty surrounds players whose draft status doesn’t ensure them a spot in the pro-ranks, the advantage Stupar has is that regardless of how his pro-career pans out, the three-time Academic All-Big Ten has a bright future ahead. I spoke with Nate about the upcoming draft, the linebacker tradition at Penn State, his legendary former head coach Joe Paterno, and the direction the football program is currently heading in.
Let’s kick it off by hearing some more about who you are. What’s your deal?
-“I am a very family oriented man who loves being around family. I’m also a man of God who is blessed to have the opportunity to play at the next level. I am blessed to have this opportunity.”
From a football perspective, tell me what type of player you think you are, and what you offer an NFL team.
-“I am a player who works hard and will continue to work until I figure out how to do something. I don’t easily give up on a task. I love competing and playing the great game of football. It always keeps you on your toes and is always changing, never staying the same. I give an NFL team versatility with the ability to successfully play special teams and playing multiple positions. My knowledge of the game will help me tremendously at the next level.”
With the draft upon us, let’s dive right into that. How are you feeling about it? Any inkling or idea as to where and when you might go?
-“I am very excited about the draft coming up. I can’t wait to see where I will be. I hear that I am in the 4th-7th (round) range, but you never know until draft day. Things change on the fly in those three days. I just feel blessed being apart of this amazing process.”
Having multiple years of starting experience and earning participation in many pre-draft evaluation events, scouts are sure to have a near completed report on you. In your own opinion, is there something some evaluators still don’t know about you? Something that may have slipped the cracks?
-“I don’t think anything has slipped through the cracks. I am a very open book. When you talk with me you will know what type of person I am. I don’t hide my character. I do like to brag that I am getting married soon, to my beautiful fiancè Marissa.”
After attending the NFL Combine, can you offer any details as to what the experience was like and how you approached it, both physically and mentally?
-“You have to go to the NFL Combine like a business trip. I was there to make myself know. Showing off all my abilities. You only get a small opportunity to do that so you have to make the most of the experience. It was a blessing to be invited, to compete with the best of the best. It was just an amazing stage to show off my talents.”
What’s your training regimen been leading up to the draft? Training anywhere in particular?
-“I trained at Power Train in Pittsburgh before the draft but now I am training at Penn State with the new weight coaches who are doing an amazing job with current players and past, like myself.”
Is there any pro player — past or present — who you feel you compare too? Any players in particular who you attempt to model your game after?
-“I see myself a mixture of [former college teammates] Sean Lee (Dallas Cowboys) and NaVorro Bowman (San Francisco 49ers). Two great talented players who where both athletic and intelligent on the football field.”
Your brother Jonathan, a tight end who’s spent time with the Patriots, Bills, and Ravens, has been in the league since 2008. Has he helped you through the process or offered any advice to you? Also, your father has suited up for Penn State and your uncle is (former New York Giants quarterback) Jeff Hostetler — quite the football family. How have they impacted your football career?
-“My family has helped me in regards to keeping me focused. Its a tough business and could end at anytime. I am blessed to be able to have the opportunity to play at the next level and will cherish my time playing at the next level. My family has helped me learn that simple fact.”
Moving on to a little bit of your collegiate career, obviously coming from “Linebacker U” one would think there’s a certain tradition to uphold given your position. What does that mean to you, and is that tradition still alive and well in Happy Valley or has it been washed out?
-“Linebacker U will always thrive as long as Penn State is still a university. We uphold the tradition of being well rounded students who work hard at football and outside of it. We will always uphold that tradition as it is written inside of us who bleed blue and white.”
It goes without saying, your former head coach Joe Paterno was a legend whose positive impact stretched far beyond the sport. What did he mean to you on and off the field?
-“He helped me become the man I am today, simple as that. Helped me in taking responsibility for my own actions and being a man…dealing with real life situations.”
Any lasting words of wisdom from coach?
-“‘Continue to be teammates to each other.’ – Joe Pa”
Looking back on your time in college, what would you say your defining moment was?
-“My last year was the defining moment, as the team needed me to step up and I did with an amazing season that led me to be invited to the NFL combine and have the opportunity to play at the next level. God has been good to me in this blessing.”
I don’t know how familiar you are with new Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, but he’s already hauled in a number of top tier recruits and the program appears to be trending upwards. How do you feel about the direction your alma matter is headed in?
-“As I see what coach O’Brien is doing, I agree with it even more. He is a very intelligent man and is doing wonders for Penn State. I am very excited to see this up and coming season.”
Anyone on the team who you expect to break out in some way during this upcoming season?
-“(Senior linebacker) Gerald Hodges is one to look for this coming season. He has always been a competitor and will continue to shine.”
Are there any motivational figures or individuals who you look to for inspiration?
-“My father is inspirational as he helped me through the rough times earlier last season before (Senior linebacker) Michael Mauti’s injury.”
A little more about Nate
Favorite song: Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns
Favorite food: Chicken Tenders
Favorite non-football activities: Video games, paint-balling, filming/editing
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