STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Carl Nassib said he didn't tell anyone, not when he walked on to Penn State in 2011 or when he was terrorizing opposing quarterbacks this season, that becoming an all-American football player some day was "my one main goal."
The wish has come true for the Malvern Prep graduate from West Chester, and that hasn't been his only reward for leading the nation in sacks with 15 1/2. He was honored as Big Ten defensive player of the year in addition to winning the Ted Hendricks Award, the Lombardi Award and the Lott Impact Trophy.
Speaking Friday at Penn State's TaxSlayer Bowl media day at Beaver Stadium, Nassib said he was reminded every day of his goal just walking around the Lasch Football Building and seeing pictures of the program's all-Americans.
"When I first got to Penn State, I walked by all those all-Americans and that was my main goal, to be an all-American," he said. "Every day, that's all I wanted to be. I never expected everything else going on with it. But that was the one thing that was my goal, and I'm very proud to achieve that.
"I didn't want to tell anybody. I never told anybody because I knew that they would laugh at me and give me a weird look. But, yeah, walking by those guys every day . . . that was just my one main goal and I'm really happy that I'm there. I just wanted my space on the wall, that will be great."
Nassib finished up a whirlwind tour of the United States on Monday that included attending functions in Charlotte, Houston, Atlanta and Newport Beach, Calif., where he was a finalist for various awards. He also went to Indianapolis to pick up his Big Ten trophy. The travel wasn't all that easy for someone who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 272 pounds.
"I'm not built for public transportation," Nassib said with a smile. "It was fun. It was tiring at points. It was tough at times. I thought I paralyzed my neck at one point because I was sleeping all crazy. But luckily I didn't."
He said the awards were "all special in different ways." He also got a chance to hang out with Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who won two awards - the Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Trophy - for which Nassib was a finalist.
"I liked him," he said. "I talked to him a lot, a really nice kid."
On the field, Nassib played only two snaps in each of Penn State's final two regular-season games, losses to Michigan and Michigan State, because of a hamstring injury. Coach James Franklin said he is 100 percent for the Jan. 2 bowl game against Georgia, and Nassib said, "I'm ready to go."
"It means everything," he said of playing his final game for Penn State. "I just want to put the Penn State jersey on one last time and just kick some [butt]. I just want to go out there and hit somebody really, really badly."
There is one more milestone that Nassib will reach in his memorable year of 2015. A biology major, he will be one of 14 football players who will receive his Penn State degree during commencement exercises on Saturday.
"It's going to be awesome," he said. "I'm so excited to get my degree and move on from that part of my life. I'm really excited. It's going to be a great time."