Penn State sophomore defensive end Pete Massaro made his first start as a Nittany Lion last Saturday vs. Kent State.
For Massaro it was a day filled with excitement and nerves, but he understood that once the game started, it was just another day of football.
I really just tried to stay relaxed, Massaro said. I didn't want my emotions to get me stressed out before the game and have it take a toll on the way I was played. So I just stayed calm and did what I know how to do.
Massaro played well in his new role, recording a 5-yard tackle for a loss in the first quarter.
After the game, Massaro met the first two people he called about the news of his start -- his mother and father.
My dad is kind of my toughest critic, so if there's something that I was doing (wrong) he'd tell me, Massaro said. But they're obviously very proud of me and liked the chance to see me start.
Whether his parents see an encore performance Saturday vs. Temple remains to be seen.
Although Massaro and fellow first-time sophomore starter Sean Stanley received positive reviews from coaches including Joe Paterno, they are no lock to retain their roles. Both Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore, the men whose spots they took, are practicing and back to full health, according to Massaro.
Crawford and Latimore have been taking the majority of the reps, but we're now starting to mix it up a little bit, Massaro said. We have a lot of depth at the position. If we all practice well we can all step in and do a pretty good job.
First-team defensive tackle Devon Still said position coach Larry Johnson has a good problem on his hands.
Right now, I'm not really sure who is starting, Still said. But it's been a rotation of four guys at the defensive end spots. Coach Johnson said he's going to make a decision later this week.
Regardless of who starts in Saturday's battle of Pennsylvania, Massaro feels the camaraderie and desire to win have kept the defensive end group on the same page.
There's been no negative emotion (between us), Massaro said. The tempo of practices hasn't been going down. We're still practicing hard. We all just need to push each other in practice and that's what we're doing now. We're trying to make each other better.