Philadelphia Eagles: West Chester’s Carl Nassib is a Hard Knocks folk hero

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Though he may not be a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, West Chester-native Carl Nassib is becoming a household name thanks to HBO’s Hard Knocks.

Every year on the HBO show Hard Knocks, a show the Philadelphia Eagles have yet to appear on, a few players rise above the rest and firmly earn themselves a permanent place in the football lexicon.

From the 2016 summer’s star Will Hayes, who had shall we say creative ideas about mermaids and dinosaurs, to one of the original Hard Knocks stars Adam “Packman” Jones, HBO’s long-running peek into NFL training camps has become must-watch TV for fans eagerly awaiting the NFL season’s official kickoff.

And this summer’s breakout star, Carl Nassib, has deep roots in the Philly area.

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A native of West Chester Pennsylvania, Nassib played his high school football at Malvern Preparatory School, where he starred as an offensive tackle and a defensive end. Though Nassib could obviously play and his brother, Ryan had college pedigree after spending three years as Syracuse’s starting quarterback, Nassib received no serious Division I offers and had to walk on at Penn State.

After not recording a snap as a freshman, Nassib caught on in a big way as a sophomore, helping to form one of the most lethal front-sevens in all of college football alongside eventual NFL players Austin Johnson, Anthony Zettel, and Jason Cabinda.

As the team’s starting end in Bob Shoop‘s 4-3 wide-nine scheme, Nassib used his size, speed and tremendous bend to work his way around the Big Ten’s right tackles and brutalize quarterbacks like J.T. Barrett, Connor Cook, and Jake Rudock.

And all of this came to a head during his senior year on campus, a year for the record books.

In only games 10 of action, Nassib led the nation with 16 sacks, the most of any Nittany Lion in school history.

And Nassib didn’t accomplish that feat by beating up the weaker teams on Penn State’s schedule either, no, Carl was an equal-opportunity sacker.

With multiple sack games against Indiana, Ohio State, and Maryland, the nation’s sack leader parlayed this monster year into some serious draft buzz. After showing out well during the pre-draft process, Nassib was selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, with the 65th overall pick.

And from there, Nassib largely had to sit and wait for his opportunity to once again shine.

Initially a, shall we say, peculiar fit as a linebacker in the team’s 3-4 scheme, Nassib now looks like a solid rotational piece in new defensive coordinator Greg Williams‘ attacking 4-3 scheme, where he will once again be tasked with putting a hand in the ground and rushing the passer from the defensive end position.

While he may not be quite as perfect of a fit with the Browns as he would be in a defense like Jim Schwartz‘s, which utilizes the wide-nine scheme that made him Penn State’s single-season sack leader, it’s clear the last few seasons haven’t knocked any of his confidence.

Not by a long shot.

Though he’s mostly had to run with the twos this summer due to the Browns’ surprisingly stacked defensive end rotation, including former first overall pick Myles Garrett, and Emmanuel Ogbah, Nassib has flashed maybe more than anyone else on the screen.

A biology major in college, Nassib will likely be remembered most fondly for the hot take financial advice he’s handed out in the locker room, showing his teammates how to turn $10,000 into $640,000 on the show’s first episode of the year (watch the clip here).

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From there, Nassib broke down his encounters with fellow Pennsylvania-born pop star Taylor Swift and even went on a profanity-laced tirade that resulted in an upset phone call from his grandma, disapproving of his language choices.

Simply put, you can take Carl Nassib out of the 215, but you can’t take the 215 out of Carl Nassib.

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And hey, if, for whatever reason, new Browns’ general manager John Dorsey decides Nassib is no longer a fit and waives the third-year defensive end in his final roster trim down, the former Penn State All-Pro would be a perfect fit in the Philadelphia Eagles’ wide-nine attacking 4-3 defense. While he may never record 16 sacks over a 10 game period, it sure would be nice to root for another hometown hero.