CHICAGO—As star defenders, Penn State LB Michael Mauti and DT Jordan Hill are used to stopping opponents in their tracks. Now, with transfer sanctions lifted and other Big Ten teams flocking to State College to try to poach Penn State players, Mauti and Hill are going on the offensive.
At the Big Ten Media Days on Friday, Mauti left no doubt that Illinois had been aggressive in trying to recruit Penn State's players—and that he wasn't going to tolerate it.
"They weren't hounding me personally, but I know for a fact that they (Illinois) reached out to our players,” Mauti said. “And I know for a fact that...they were in and around our football area. I mean, if they're in State College, they want our players, and they're reaching out to our players.
"I'm not going to get into this—I don't want to make, like, a feuding thing. But at the same time, if you’re from our conference and you’re going to try and steal our players and then wish us well, then I’ve got a serious problem with that.”
Of Illinois coach Tim Beckman, Mauti said, "He's not breaking any rules, because there are no rules here. It's been set up right now for our team to just fall apart piece by piece."
Mauti also rejected the notion that the transfer exemptions were designed to help players. "That's not an opportunity," he said. "That's not helping us. We didn't want to be in this situation.
"To say that that's doing us a service, to say that getting 10-12 calls a day, to say that coaches waiting outside of classrooms and our apartments, that's not helping us."
Hill also found the attention from other coaches excessive.
"There's been a lot of coaches that have called this week, all the players," Hill said. "It's just like, you want to say, 'Leave me alone, let me be a regular college student.' But we're not regular college students right now. We're going through a lot."
He continued: "It's too much. But I guess it's a high-profile thing that's going on now, and that's what we're going to get."
A respite isn't coming anytime soon. The NCAA announced that the restrictions on off-campus and telephone recruiting rules will last until the first day of classes at Penn State: August 27, or a full month from Friday. So those 10-12 calls a day that Mauti talks about aren't likely to stop until every single interested program gets the hint that he's not interested in a transfer.
At the very least, Mauti's not going to let his resentment of the unwanted recruiting attention get in the way of his goals for a successful senior season. He said as much during his appearance with Michael Zordich and other Penn State players on Wednesday, and he reiterated it on Friday.
"Nobody had anything to do with what went on, and yet we're paying the consequences and that's OK, because that's the situation we're in," Mauti said. "And we're not going to sit here and pout about it. We look at it as an opportunity to create a new legacy here, and it's going to be something special when it's all said and done."
Adam Jacobi is a Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.