By Joe Juliano, Philadelphia Inquirer
September 20, 2010
At the time he was told he would make the first start of his college football career, Penn State defensive end Pete Massaro still had three long days until the game to keep from jumping out of his skin.
His other problem was keeping others from getting too pumped.
“I called my parents,” the redshirt sophomore from Marple Newtown High said, “and they got so excited I sort of had to calm them down.”
As much as he tried to downplay it, Massaro had to be thrilled. He redshirted his freshman season and missed his sophomore year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the 2009 Blue-White spring game.
But in only his third game as a Nittany Lion, he came out for the first play Saturday against Kent State at Beaver Stadium and contributed to a 24-0 shutout. On his second series, he tackled the Golden Flashes’ Jacquise Terry in the backfield for a 5-yard loss.
“I didn’t want to get myself too psyched out about it,” Massaro said, noting that the coaches told him at Wednesday’s practice that he would start. “But this is what I’ve been working toward. This is what I came here to do.
“I was actually pretty calm before the game. The way I was thinking, the only difference is that I’m coming [onto the field] on the first play instead of the 10th or 15th play. So it really wasn’t much of a difference for me.”
Penn State coach Joe Paterno liked what he saw in the 6-foot-4, 255-pound player from Newtown Square.
“I think Massaro did well,” Paterno said. “I think Massaro is going to be a good football player.”
The two regular starting ends, Jack Crawford (St. Augustine Prep) and Eric Latimore, were banged up, according to Paterno. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley concurred but added that defensive line coach Larry Johnson “felt that Pete and [Sean] Stanley deserved their chance to get a start.”
“I’ve been impressed with Pete,” Bradley said. “He’s really come on since the end of preseason. He’s kind of got his legs underneath him again and he’s finally feeling good about himself.”
Though he relished the chance to start, Massaro said “it’s not that big of a deal” because of the constant rotation of players at defensive end. But it seems as if he’d like to start again this Saturday when the Nittany Lions host Temple.
“I know the guy that’s going to start next week is the guy who goes hard in practice and the guy who makes plays; I’m talking about in general,” he said.
OTHER MASSARO NOTES:
From Joe Paterno’s post-game press conference:
On defense, you decided to start Pete Massaro and Sean Stanley. Why did you start them and how do you think Massaro did?
“Jack Crawford got banged up a little a bit and so did Eric Latimore. So we played the other kids. I think Massaro did well. I think Massaro is going to be a good football player. Again, he is a freshman. Now Stanley played some last year. I’d like to see Stanley have a little more fire because he is one heck of an athlete. He actually should be doing more than what he is doing and he should be making more plays than he is. But Crawford didn’t practice a couple days. We stuck him in there after they started to hurt us outside. That wasn’t really the end’s fault. Our linebackers were a little late getting over there a couple times. But I think Massaro and Stanley did a pretty good job.”
From the Bellingham Herald’s piece on Joe Paterno:
Most of Paterno’s input comes during staff meetings. In the days after last week’s lopsided loss at Alabama, Paterno apparently was his old cranky, demanding self.
“He was on everybody,” Jay Paterno said. “At every meeting, he was saying, ‘I want this in the passing game, this in the running game, I want this on defense.’ I mean, he’s obviously not in there drawing up the X’s and O’s on everything we do. But he’s still very much into everything we do.”
Pete Massaro, a sophomore defensive end from Marple Newtown High, confirmed Jay Paterno’s claim that the loss to Alabama had rekindled JoePa’s fire.
“He was very intense,” said Massaro, who added that Paterno was demonstrating techniques.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I hope I’m able to do that when I’m 83 years old.”