Q&A: Penn State LB Jason Cabinda talks karaoke, Sheetz vs. Wawa

Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda (40) leads the team with 68 tackles this season. Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker Jason Cabinda, a sophomore, has been one of the biggest surprises this season for the Penn State Nittany Lions.

When middle linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White suffered a season-ending injury in the opener, Cabinda moved from the weak side to the middle and quickly made his impact felt. He leads the team in both tackles (68) and pass-breakups (five), and he’s evolved into a defensive leader.

We wanted to get to know Cabinda a little better off the field. So we decided to ask some off-the-wall questions, some light-hearted hypotheticals and (some) football.

Let’s get started off on the right note: What is the weirdest thing about Jason Cabinda?

Cabinda: Let me think here (laughs). Most people might not know, but I’ve got some vocals on me. I’ve got some vocals. We might've had some karaoke moments on the team. Me and Marcus Allen and a couple guys go into the studio sometimes to mess around -- and we do some nice little renditions. Just for fun.

So, if you were able to sing one karaoke song to impress people, what would you go with?

JC: I would pick Ne-Yo's "Stay With Me" from his first album. Ne-Yo used to be one of my favorite artists, and I just think I’d be able to do a good job with that if I’m really trying to impress people. I want to leave them with a good impression and let them know I can really sing.

I foresee a singing request at your next media appearance. So, besides football, what do you spend most of your spare time on? Is it singing?

JC: I mean, I love my music at all times. I always have music on me. If I leave my headphones at home going to class, I’m not a happy camper. But one of the things I love doing is playing basketball, because that was really one of my loves growing up. I just wasn’t tall enough (laughs). I love playing basketball, so we’ll try to get some pick-up games going.

Since we’re back on the topic of sports, I feel like I can slip in a football question here. But it’s not going to be an easy one: Who is the best Penn State linebacker of all-time?

JC: Man ... That’s between Jack Ham and LaVar [Arrington], I’m going to say. Some people might give LaVar the edge -- and I might even give LaVar the edge, too -- because I feel like, back when Jack Ham played, guys weren’t as athletic as now. Now, back then, I do think they were tougher than a lot of the guys that play now. But I think LaVar might’ve been the better linebacker because of the athleticism required to play at the time he did. I don’t know; it’s a hard one. But I might have to give the edge to LaVar.

What TV character is most like James Franklin?

JC: (laughs) Geez. You know the show "Scandal"? There’s a show "Scandal," and the president that’s in the show -- I’m just talking in terms of the personality aspect. His name’s Fitzgerald, they call him Fitz, and he’s like the best politician on the planet. Like, he can convince you to do absolutely anything. If James Franklin had to convince the whole team to go jump off a bridge, he could probably do it, in all honesty. So, yeah, I would compare him to Fitz from "Scandal," because of how well he’s able to convince people and guide a team.

Let’s mix it up a little bit. Who wins in a fight -- Spiderman or Batman?

JC: Oh, that’s got to be Batman. Batman’s way tougher than Spiderman. I mean, Spiderman does have the whole long-range stuff, but Batman can pretty much take any kind of damage. And Batman’s gadgets are way better than just using spider webs. So I’m definitely going to have to go with Batman.

If you had a time-travel machine, when and where is the first place you would go?

JC: That’s a good question. Wow, where would I go? I would probably want to go back to the ‘50s and kind of see how it really was, like kind of that Baby Boomer time, the time of race -- I just want to experience it for myself and see how it really was. That’s where I’d want to go. Being that I personally really haven’t experienced too much racism against me, it’s kind of hard to appreciate what people back then did to get to this point in society. I think the reason I’d do it is so I could appreciate the life I’m able to live now because of those people who were going on strikes and who were dying and doing all those things, like the MLK movement and everything. That’s why I’d do it.

I think that’s the most thoughtful response I’ve gotten from that question. So let’s go with just one more, maybe the most controversial question I’ve asked on here yet: Sheetz or Wawa?

JC: Oh, that’s not even a question (laughs). Wawa. It’s Wawa. I grew up with Wawa. I’ve had the Sheetz here. Does not compare.