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Penn State’s Pete Massaro hasn’t let setbacks break his resolve

By 24 November, 2012No Comments

Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer

POSTED: Thursday, November 22, 2012, 2:16 AM

The thought of his five years in the Penn State football program leaves Pete Massaro somewhat frustrated and a bit philosophical – but with no regrets.

Whether it was injuries – torn anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees two years apart, with the constant rehabilitation and the inevitable setbacks, and a partial dislocation of his shoulder this season – or the turmoil around the Nittany Lions after last summer’s NCAA sanctions, a determined Massaro has seen his way through.

Looking back, not counting his 2008 redshirt year, the defensive end from Marple Newtown High School enjoyed just one healthy season – 2010 – when he was among the team leaders with eight tackles for loss. His potential was obvious, but injuries kept it from being fulfilled.

“The way I see it, it was just a few random events, a few random plays,” Massaro said. “I don’t know what the meaning is, but I think in the end they’ve made me a stronger person, and they contributed to my character. So there’s nothing really that I can do about the injuries I’ve suffered. But it’s been tough.”

Massaro called the year of sanctions, with no postseason bowls, player transfers, and general uproar, “a roller-coaster ride”.

“One day you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world, and the next day you’re at the bottom of the barrel,” he said. “It’s the way things work sometimes. That’s just life, I guess. But it’s been a great adventure, and hopefully I gained something and this team gained something from going through that experience. I’ve handled everything the best that I knew how to handle things.”

As one of the senior leaders, Massaro came front and center to steady his teammates after the sanctions and the resulting uncertainty. Head coach Bill O’Brien called him “a great example of that senior class and how they’ve persevered.”

“What an unbelievable kid,” O’Brien said. “Here’s a guy that’s a fantastic student and is going to be a huge success in life. He plays with great passion. He plays the game the right way. He’s been through a lot. He’s had several injuries. The football gods haven’t been on his side all the time, but he’s persevered.”

Perseverance is a big part of Massaro’s makeup. He graduated with a 3.85 grade point average in finance and is working on a second degree in economics. The 23-year-old from Newtown Square is a candidate for the academic all-American team, a distinction he earned in 2010.

Massaro’s high school coach, Ray Gionta, described his former star as a young man with “terrific resolve, a terrific personality, and a terrific outlook on life” who will do well after he leaves Penn State.

“He’s certainly going to be a success after he doesn’t play football anymore,” Gionta said. “His future is definitely bright. He’s the kind of kid that you want all your players to be like.”

Despite his injuries, Massaro said he will stick with football and see whether any opportunity with the NFL comes up, and he won’t stop “until someone tells me that I’m not good enough or not healthy enough.”

“Obviously, this year hasn’t gone as I imagined it or as I sort of planned on it going,” he said. “But that’s life. Right now, though, my full attention is on beating Wisconsin this weekend and ending off my career here on a good note.”