UNIVERSITY PARK, PA (WTAJ) — Two of Penn State’s most beloved seniors face a difficult path into the NFL.
The two are among Penn States lowest graded draft prospects this season, despite long and productive careers.
“It’s cool to be able to kind of reminisce, because I was just so head down when I was here. So being able to kind of take it, take a deep breath and really look at the body of work that we all had. There was a lot of fun,” said Clifford during Penn State’s pro day.
But as Clifford looks back one game stands out as perhaps a turning point in both he and Mustipher’s career. Penn State at Iowa in 2021.
A difficult loss, compounded by injuries to both players. It’s a challenge Mustipher said he grew out of.
“You’re going to face adversity. You know it’s a business up there. So, you know, you might get cut. You might you not be on a team. It just is so much different stuff on the next level that you don’t experience here,” he said. “But being able to face that adversity. I mean, I’m a I’m able to bounce back quick. I can just bounce back way quicker than I was before because I have that mental part of my game that I always needed.”
Mustipher’s path to the NFL is difficult to pinpoint. Despite good tape, a poor combine hurt his draft stock. One service graded him as high as a top-150 prospect at the end of the year, only to plumet outside the top-300 after the combine.
“P.J. has a certain place in Penn State fans’ hearts. And I want you to I want you to know I hear you. I also think he has great qualities, is a great football player, but he was last or second to last in every testing metric at the combine,” said Thomas Frank Carr, Film Analyst for Blue White Illustrated. “So P.J. can play in the NFL, but he would be an extreme outlier.”
Once a day two pick, Mustipher’s stock has fallen to the sixth or seventh round at best, while Clifford will likely have to play his way onto a roster. Penn State’s all-time leading passer in about every passing category, Clifford has been a staple in Happy Valley, but his leadership and character will only take him so far.
“There are intangible qualities about Sean Clifford that are very valuable that some teams will like, and he will get to a camp, but draftable material? It’s the old adage, if you starting with how great of a guy is or what kind of team leader he is, you’re skipping past all of the tools and the physical things that make up a football player,” said Carr.