There is no way to describe what Mike Mauti means to this Penn State team. He gave the program a backbone this summer when all seemed disjointed, everyone seemed dejected and perhaps everything was at brink of falling apart. He convinced underclassmen to stay. He lead by example,playing gritty, determined football every game this season - that is, until this game.
When Mauti left the Indiana game with a knee injury, it was a cruel ending to an epic collegiate career. Really, Mauti is the stuff of legends. The linebacker is a quiet leader. He doesn’t like the attention. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, but he plays with class. He embodies every positive trait Penn Staters pride themselves in; Success with Honor, the whole 100 yards.
Penn State is playing today with No. 42 on their helmets, to honor Mauti whose collegiate career, barring a surprising petition for a sixth year of eligibility, is over. The “42” is large and blue and takes up pretty much the entire left side of the helmet. In a sweet gesture, senior linebacker Gerald Hodges changed his jersey to No. 42 today to honor his good friend. The helmet decals are a way for the senior to be on the field with his teammates without actually playing.
A nice tribute. According to a Penn State spokesperson, it was suggested by the team. But doesn’t it seem a bit much? He didn’t die. His football career is not over. He can still rehab and has prospects for a long and successful career in the NFL. He is just missing one game.