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Penn State Football: Budding Broadcaster Aeneas Hawkins Does My Job & Interviews Teammate PJ Mustipher

by on May 23, 2019 7:00 PM

Penn State sophomore defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins wants to be a TV broadcaster when he graduates.

This week, he tackled his first assignment:

Interview teammate PJ Mustipher.

Hawkins knocked it out of the park. He was smooth as glass and as smart as Stephen A.

At my behest during Wednesday’s media availability with the Nittany Lions’ class of rising sophomores, Hawkins — a 6-foot-2, 274-pounder from famed Moeller High in Cincinnati — took my phone and took control of a Q&A with Mustipher, a 6-4, 300-pounder from Maryland’s famed McDonough High.

A transcript of that interview follows. Rest assured, it won’t be Hawkins’ last time asking the questions. (Mustipher more than held his own, as well.)

HAWKINS: I’m here with PJ Mustipher, No. 93. You wrapped up your first year of college. I’m interested in hearing what you think are the biggest challenges stepping in here as a new guy, as a new face. How do you handle those?

MUSTIPHER: Right, right. There are a lot of things you don’t realize until you are in the full swing of fall. I think there are a lot of misconceptions when you are here in the summer, having a good time, taking one class, doing a couple of workouts.

But once you get in the fall, when you have to balance football and school and want to have a little bit of social life — but you don’t know if you can — that’s when it gets tough. I would say that’s the biggest challenge, learning how to balance each and every one of those fields: school, football and social life. No matter how long it takes, you just have to push through it and keep working.

HAWKINS: Let me give you a follow-up, PJ.

You listed some of the biggest challenges you can have here as a true freshman. You played early on (12 games in 2018). How would you describe yourself and those adjustments you made? And what would you advise young guys coming in if they want to make an impact immediately?

MUSTIPHER: I would say first and foremost come in in shape. That’s the first evaluation you’re going to get as a true freshman.

The second is to always set a course. No matter what, you’re going to have obstacles. No matter who you are, the challenges are going to come your way and they’re going to come frequently. So, you have to be willing to put your head down and know what the goal is at hand. You’re going to get there if you follow that line of thinking.

HAWKINS: PJ, talk to me about the personal challenges and obstacles you faced coming in here — a guy who made an impact his freshman year. What were some of those things you had to get through?

MUSTIPHER: When things weren’t going my way at first, it was kind of a bumpy road at the beginning of the season. I just had to trust that the coaches wanted the best for me. They’ve been doing it for a long time, so I had to believe and trust in them. Doing that and believing in the process was the biggest thing for me.

If you keep your head down and know what your goal is, you can overcome it like I did.

HAWKINS: You talk about trust. How pivotal has a guy like Sean Spencer (D-line coach and associate head coach) been in developing trust here off the field?

MUSTIPHER: I think you would know the answer to that question since you’re in the same room as me. You could answer that question yourself.

(Both players crack up. Seconds pass. Hawkins finally regains control of the interview and resumes asking Mustipher questions.)

HAWKINS: Lock it in, lock in it. Tell me how pivotal Coach Spencer has been in your development as football player.

MUSTIPHER: Just being around coach Spence every day, his energy and the passion he brings to the game and the guys in his room. He wants to see every one of us succeed, and I think we’ve done that. We’re going to improve under his wing and continue to develop, given all the knowledge has given us.

HAWKINS: PJ, you’re a young D-tackle here in this system. Coach Spencer has talked publicly about how it is a challenge for young D-tackles to get on the field. You are the first one he’s had do it.

I want you to describe your relationship with a guy like Rob Windsor (fifth-year senior D-tackle and returning starter), who’s experienced and a veteran. How much has Rob meant to a guy like you in your development?

MUSTIPHER: For sure, he has. You mentioned Rob and I was just on the phone with him and he’s doing really well. Rob is someone I can look up to, someone who has been on the field for multiple years. He’s produced at a level I want to produce at. He’s received a number of honors.

I can call him whenever I need him. I can’t wait to be on the field with him this year, along with the rest of the guys in the room. I love Rob.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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