NFL Draft 2013: Michael Mauti overcomes injury, adversity to play in NFL

Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Mauti, recovering from his third ACL tear in five years, is combating perception that he is an injury-prone player. At the 2013 NFL Combine, he met with every NFL team to let them know just what kind of person he is.

Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti has been through a bit more in his playing career than your average 2013 NFL Draft hopeful. Once considered a potential Day 1 pick, Mauti's draft stock has dropped significantly since suffering his third torn ACL in five years last November. Prior to that, he went through the Jerry Sandusky scandal along with the rest of his teammates, enduring sanctions, including a bowl ban, that Mauti says he still isn't sure were fair.

With plenty on his mind, Mauti picked up his pen and wrote a handwritten letter to every team in the NFL to let them know his thoughts on his playing career.

"I wanted them to kind of hear from the horse's mouth, where my mindset was and what I plan on doing," Mauti said, speaking at the 2013 NFL Combine. "There's a lot of rumors flying around, a lot of misinformation. We just wanted them to hear from me, and where my mind is at about getting back … I was going to put myself in a situation to be healthy and play in the fall.

"I got some good feedback."

Mauti said he is positive that he will be ready to compete for playing time in August. He has been through the recovery process twice before, after all, now the second time for a left ACL tear. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to work out for scouts and coaches in Indianapolis except to put up 28 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. Mauti hit the interview circuit hard, however, going from table to table for six hours straight to speak with NFL team representatives, emphasizing just how determined he is to change his injury-prone perception.

Mauti has a very helpful confidante in Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, who knows a few things about how the NFL works after spending five years with the New England Patriots. Mauti said he learned "more than I could ever imagine" in just one year playing under the Nittany Lions' head coach.

"How things work in the NFL. How a brilliant pro offense works in different scenarios, different situations. How to play good defense in different games, stuff like that. Matchup issues," Mauti said. "So much about football and just about organization and running a program. As well as being a great guy to be around in the locker room, just an awesome person."

It is unclear where Mauti will fall during the NFL Draft in April. He was named a first-team All-American last season despite missing a game due to injury. The injury stigma will be difficult to overcome, however. When your fate leaves your hands, all you can do is be yourself, according to Mauti.

"That's what got you to this point, not making any changes now, trying to do something else," Mauti said. "The medical eval, that's going to be what it is. You can't really change that. The rest is just selling what you are, and being who you are."

More in the NFL:

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Free agency: Every NFL city is awful

Monday's NFL Combine winners and losers

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Tom Brady's new deal includes $30 million signing bonus

Who will trade for Alex Smith?

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