After the game, O’Brien was asked about Mauti’s injury. Generally, he says that he won’t know anything until Tuesday, which means that you won’t know anything until Tuesday. For the first time that I can remember, Bill O’Brien elaborated.
“All I can say is, in your career, I’ve been fortunate to be around some special players. You’re thinking about some of the players that you’ve had the fortune to coach. I’ve coached the greatest. I’ve coached a hall of fame quarterback, hall of fame receivers, great players and he’s one of the most special players I’ve been around. He embodies, in my opinion, what Penn State’s all about. He’s tough, grind it out, smart. He’s just a fantastic kid.”
O’Brien couldn’t hide his emotion when talking about his senior leader.
Moments later, defensive coordinator Ted Roof was made available. With tears in his eyes, Roof didn’t hesitate to tell those of us gathered around him what he thought about Mauti.
“Well, you know, he’s a fighter. And man, I respect guys who, when they get knocked down, get back up and keep fighting. That’s what he’s done and he’s got stronger. And I know, whatever the extent of the injury is, he’s going to do it again, because that’s who he is. That’s not something that comes and goes. That’s who Mike Mauti is. That’s one of the reasons why we love him so much. He’s been a pillar of strength. There was never any wavering. There’s never any wishy-washy with him. It’s either this or this. And man, when he’s with you, he’s with you. He’s with us and we’re with him. I have a lot of respect for him. I love the kid.”
I thought it was significant that the same views on Mauti by the fans who root for him and the media who covers him were echoed by the coaches and players who are with him every day.
His playing days at Penn State are over but he will be forever a Nittany Lion. One of the best Nittany Lions. Last January, Mauti spoke at Joe Paterno’s funeral with the likes of Todd Blackledge and Michael Robinson. Mauti has since earned a spot next to guys just like them as a Penn State legend. That doesn’t happen with just on-field performance. It takes much more than that.
Good luck to Michael Mauti in whatever comes next. When the chips were down, Mauti rose up. For that, Penn State fans everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude.
He’s with us and we’re with him.
For all of the latest on the Penn State Nittany Lions, follow VBR Lead Editor Tim Tolley on Twitter.