Sweat rolled off Devin Schnupp’s cheeks Tuesday, as he spoke softly and told reporters in the middle of workouts that he had a message for Penn State wrestling fans.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” he said.
The 125-pound Nittany Lion has been a cause for some concern among the blue-and-white faithful. The redshirt freshman was the lone Penn State wrestler to drop his two bouts last week, a 6-4 decision to Army West Point’s Trey Chalifoux and a 3-1 decision against Bucknell’s Jake Campbell.
But Schnupp and coach Cael Sanderson both downplayed any long-term issues during practice.
“I think Devin’s fine,” Sanderson said. “The important thing for him is just to get out there and see where he is and see that he can compete at this level on this team. And he saw that we just need him to be himself a little more.
“He’s holding back a little bit, and it’s not unusual for a freshman in his first weekend of wrestling. He’s a smart kid, a good kid, so he’ll be fine.”
Schnupp took several shots at both opponents last week, but he was unable to finish off his takedowns. In some cases, Chalifoux and Campbell were able to get in on a counter-shot to put Schnupp in a bad position.
Overall, Schnupp accounted for two of the Nittany Lions’ three individual losses last week — but the options behind Schnupp are limited. The most-experienced wrestler at 125, junior Kenny Yanovich, is “banged up” right now, per Sanderson.
Although the head coach didn’t specify the injury or offer a timetable, Sanderson didn’t exactly hint at a quick return: “We still have fourth months until the national tournament,” he said.
“So whoever we feel is our best guy as we get down to the road — but, right now, Schnupp’s a tough kid. He’s got great shots, a lot of potential, and we just got to let him finish his shots and believe himself a little bit more.”
Schnupp, a no-nonsense athlete who has no superstitions and doesn’t listen to music before meets, will have a few opportunities for redemption in the coming days. He’s set to take on Binghamton’s Steven Bulzomi (40-29 career record) on Friday and will then compete in the Keystone Classic on Sunday.
And Schnupp said he’s not about to think back to Army and Bucknell when he takes on Binghamton.
“You just forget,” Schnupp said, referring to his losses. “Learn from your mistakes and keep working hard.”
These weren’t the results Schnupp envisioned to start off his Penn State career, but he said he’s not discouraged. He’s found a way to win before — he was Warwick High School’s winningest wrestler with 156 victories — and he posted a 5-8 record last season in open tournaments, wrestling unattached.
He believes he’s better this season. And although he didn’t want to share exactly what he learned from last week’s losses — “I don’t know if I should say,” he said with a smirk — he said he’s going to change some things as a result.
His teammates believe he’s still on the right track.
“Devin’s been in there the last two matches by a takedown or less,” heavyweight Nick Nevills said. “He’s going to get that corrected, and he’s going to continue to get better. ... I think the coaches still believe in him; I know we still believe in him as a team.”