It looked like a worst-case scenario when Michael Mauti had to be carted off the Beaver Stadium field with a left knee injury last Saturday.
It appears to be just that even though coach Bill O’Brien declined to talk about the extent of Mauti’s injury Tuesday out of respect for the senior outside linebacker and his family.
O’Brien did say something telling when asked about how Mauti is dealing with his second major knee injury in as many seasons. He referenced Tom Brady and Wes Welker, each of whom he coached in New England.
Brady and Welker suffered season-ending knee injuries while O’Brien was with the Patriots, and each tore his ACL and MCL (medial collateral ligament).
That is probably what Mauti did too after an Indiana running back chop blocked the fifth-year senior while he was engaged with another player.
“It’s a very difficult thing for him personally, and I’ve been around that,” O’Brien said of Mauti’s injury. “I’ve seen Tom Brady have that knee injury. I’ve seen Wes Welker. Guys that just live and breathe the game and it’s a very difficult thing to deal with.”
What may be most difficult for Mauti is trying to convince an NFL team to take him even though he almost certainly won’t be able to work out for teams before the draft in late April.
It’s hard to imagine the NCAA granting Mauti medical hardship and granting him a sixth season since he played most of this season. And that option may not even interest Mauti as much as he loves Penn State.
He has sustained three serious knee injuries in college. Another one would likely end any chances of him playing at the next level.
Plus, he has already given Penn State everything he has, and Mauti is probably anxious to start the next chapter of his life as murky as that looks right now.
– Scott Brown