2011 ALL-Big Ten Honorable Mention (Coaches)...13 games played...third on the team with 80 total tackles/39 solo...5.5 tackles for loss...2 sacks...2 interceptions and 5 passes defended.
Nate Stupar made seven starts last season at linebacker, while playing every game on defense and special teams. Stupar finished third on the team with 73 tackles, recording 6.5 tackles for loss (minus-28), with two sacks, one interception, a forced fumble and four pass breakups. He ranked fifth on the squad in minus-yardage plays. Stupar's 1.5 tackles for loss against Youngstown State were a career-high and included a sack for minus-eight yards. He made four hits at No. 1Alabama. In the 24-0 win over Kent State, he had three stops. Stupar delivered the play of the game in the win over previously unbeaten Temple. He grabbed the second interception of his career in the third quarter, returning it 31 yards to the Temple 12 to set up Collin Wagner's go-ahead field goal. Stupar made a team-high tying seven tackles, with five in the second half, and recorded a sack against the Owls. He had five tackles, including one for a loss of four yards, at Iowa. Stupar made a then-season-high nine tackles, including one for a loss, and had one pass breakup against Illinois. He made six stops in the win at Minnesota. Against Michigan, he had three solo tackles and broke up a pass, nearly intercepting it. He made five tackles in the comeback win over Northwestern. Stupar led the linebacking corps with five solo tackles (7 total) at Ohio State. He had an active day against Indiana, registering a team-high 10 tackles (6 solos), the second-highest total of his career. He made a game-high tying 10 hits against Michigan State for his second consecutive double-figure tackle game and the third of his career. Stupar also forced his first career fumble, stripping Spartan running back Edwin Baker in the fourth quarter. He saw action on 619 snaps last season, topped by 78 against Illinois. Stupar brought a 3.63 grade-point average into the spring semester and should be a strong candidate for CoSIDA Academic All- America recognition. He earned Academic All-Big Ten honors last year for the third time and is on schedule to graduate in May.
Stupar recorded a career-high 12 tackles (eight solo), including a sack, in the win over Akron to launch a season that saw him play in every game on defense and special teams. He made 31 tackles, the second-highest total among defensive reserves, and earned his first two career starts. He also had 1.5 tackles for loss and one interception. Stupar was on the field for 324 plays, led by 65 against Akron, as he took the field in the first quarter when Navorro Bowman was injured. Stupar made his first career start against Syracuse and recorded five stops. He also collected his first career interception, returning it 17 yards to the Orange two-yard line to set up a touchdown. Stupar started against Temple and again recorded five tackles, helping hold the Owls to two field goals. He suffered a slight ankle sprain that limited his time the following week against Iowa. In the road win at Illinois, he made three hits and he had two stops each against Ohio State and Indiana. Stupar compiled a 3.85 grade-point average during the fall semester and was selected Academic All-Big Ten for the second time.
Stupar was a key contributor for the special teams and gained experience on defense. Playing in every game, he recorded 21 tackles, blocked two punts and forced another punter to abandon his kick. In his second collegiate game, Stupar broke through the Oregon State punt protection unit and forced the Beavers' punter to run with the ball. Stupar dropped him for a nine-yard loss and two plays later Evan Royster burst 28 yards to give Penn State a 21-0 lead en route to the 45-14 thumping. After several near misses on punt block attempts, Stupar finally got one in the 46-17 win over Michigan. He got a hand on a third-quarter punt, and it traveled only 12 yards. The deflection gave Penn State excellent field position and resulted in a Kevin Kelly 32-yard field goal for a 29-17 lead and a continuation of the game's momentum swing. Stupar recorded his second blocked punt against Indiana deep in Hoosier territory, resulting in a Kelly field goal and a lead the Lions would not relinquish in the 34-7 victory. Playing in every game and 290 snaps, Stupar made a season-high five tackles each against Coastal Carolina and Oregon State. He also had two stops each in the wins over Syracuse, Temple, Wisconsin and Indiana. He was on the field for a season-high 42 plays against Coastal Carolina. Stupar compiled a 3.58 grade-point average during the fall semester to gain Dean's List and Academic All-Big Ten honors.
A two-time first-team Associated Press all-state selection, he has good size, skills and instincts and should be in the thick of the competition. Rated among the nation's top 10 outside linebacker prep prospects in 2006, Stupar recorded 192 career tackles, including 31 sacks, and one interception. He made 60 stops with eight sacks as a senior. He was a prolific receiver, with 91 career catches for 1,388 yards and 18 touchdowns, including 39 grabs for 624 yards and eight scores as a senior. A Big 33 selection, Stupar was instrumental in State College Area HS reaching the 2006 Class AAAA state semifinals.
Stupar comes from a family with multiple ties to Penn State, including his father, Steve, who was a lineman for Paterno in the late 1970s. Uncles Ron, Doug and Jeff Hostetler all played for the Nittany Lions around the same time. A brother, Jonathan, was a senior tight end at Virginia in 2007 and a grandfather, Frank Stupar, played football at Tennessee.