When young fans meet star players, they aspire to be just like them. Usually, the dedication lasts for all of a few weeks before they go back to a regimen of X-box and Cheetos. However, when Aaron Maybin chose to emulate Penn State great Lavar Arrington after having the chance to meet him during his stint with the Redskins, he followed through. After graduating from Mount Hebron High School in Maryland, Maybin decided to follow in Arrington's footsteps, attending Penn State, where he majored in causing headaches for opposing quarterbacks. Now the linebacking legend is Maybin's manager.
Maybin got his chance for the spotlight after starter Maurice Evans was suspended for off-field behavior and he took full advantage of this opportunity, racking up 12 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss from the defensive end position, earning first team All-American honors. After forcing two fumbles in a 48 – 7 drubbing of Wisconsin, Maybin was named Big Ten defensive player of the week. At 6'4”, 236 lbs, Maybin is undersized for a defensive end, but his speed and ferocity set him apart from the crowd. Many expect he will play OLB in a 3-4 scheme.
Scouts are divided in their opinions of the sophomore sack-machine. Frank Coyle of Draftmaster.com told PSU's Daily Collegian that he was “perplexed” by Maybin's decision to turn pro so early, and that "He's gonna have to have a kick-ass workout to get in the first round." Says Dan Shonka of Ourlads.com "He needed another year to develop physically. He's gonna get beat up a little bit.” However, the general consensus is that Maybin should go mid-late first round or early in the second depending on how he does at the combine. According to Steve Saunders, owner of the Power-Train facility where Maybin is preparing for the coming scrutiny, he is an extremely fast learner and has a great work ethic.
Many mock drafts have Maybin going to the Houston Texans with the 15th pick as a weapon to complement Mario Williams and give the Texans an identity as a defense. And if he doesn't, there's no reason the Miami Dolphins shouldn't snatch him up in a heartbeat with the 25th pick to play opposite Joey Porter (who was also a fast, undersized defensive end in college).
With the chance to make an impact as a pass-rush specialist, if not as an every down player, and a potential multi-million dollar payday, why would Maybin want to stay at the college level? Any snap could be the one where an offensive lineman happens to roll over his ankle and ends his NFL dreams. Many standout players who leave for the NFL early drift into mediocrity, but so do many who play four years.
Take a quick look at a list of recent Heisman winners, and you'll see what I mean. Sure, it would be great to see Maybin make minced-meat out of the rest of the Big Ten for a couple more years, and only time will tell if he has what it takes to be great on the NFL stage. Maybin has no shortage of advisers: he has access to Joe Paterno and arguably the best linebacker produced by Penn State as a manager. We as fans and analysts need to do a better job of letting our players grow up and play with the big boys. It's their dream, and the decision on when to go is between them and their coaches and managers.