Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti has been through a lot since arriving on the campus back in 2008. His response to multiple forms of adversity, physical and emotional scars has been nothing short of impressive. Of course, what else would you expect from a player who has deep Penn State roots?
Here is a look at Penn State's senior linebacker.
Mike Mauti was a highly rated recruit out of high school, where he totaled 121 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns in his senior season.
His accomplishments helped place him on the ESPN.com Top 150 and a top-20 linebacker rating from Rivals.com. Mauti also played in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Michael Mauti is the son of Rich Mauti, a former Penn State wide receiver in the mid 1970s. Rich went on to play wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints and established his family roots there as a result.
Mike's brother, Patrick, was a wide receiver for Penn State as well, from 2005 to 2009.
Mike Mauti already earned his degree from Penn State last December, majoring in crime, law and justice. However, he has one more season of eligibility that he will use this upcoming season.
Mike Mauti graduated from high school early so he could enroll at Penn State in January of 2008. As a result of being able to join the program early, Mauti quickly picked up the defense and started seeing some time on the field on special teams and even on defense.
He was one of three true freshmen to play in each game of the 2008 season, which resulted in a Big Ten championship.
Mike Mauti missed the entire 2009 season after suffering a torn ACL during summer practices. The injury to his right knee would keep Mauti out of action until the following spring, which was a very light work load for the linebacker. Mauti was able to take a medical redshirt in 2009 to retain maximum eligibility.
Mauti returned in 2010 with a very strong performance on the field. Though he battled through various injuries all season, Mauti was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in Penn State's wild comeback win against Northwestern, which led to Joe Paterno's 400th career victory.
Mike Mauti's 2010 season, as referenced in the previous slide, was plagued by nagging injuries.
A shoulder injury against Ohio State reduced Mauti's playing time for the remainder of the season in 2010, but he returned in a big way for Penn State's bowl game against Florida, in the Outback Bowl. Mauti played a total of 59 plays for Penn State in the bowl loss to the Gators.
Mike Mauti looked to have a strong 2011 season after healing up from his battle wounds from 2010. After receiving numerous preseason honors form various outlets, Mauti's 2011 season was cut short early with another torn ACL injury, this time to the left knee. Mauti's torn ACL was suffered in the fourth game of the season against Eastern Michigan.
Mike Mauti has battled back through another grueling rehab regiment in order to be ready to play for the 2012 season.
Mauti was once again held back in spring drills and the spring game, but his hard work has shown to be rewarding. Bill O'Brien has commented that Mauti is a hard worker, and the linebacker has already won the admiration of his new head coach.
Mike Mauti has become one of the true leaders of the Penn State football team over the last few years, but it has been over the last calendar year that he has really taken on the leadership role with charisma and integrity.
Given everything that has taken place and unfolded since last season started, Mauti has never backed down from his commitment to the program and the prototypical "Penn State way."
In a time when leadership is desperately needed for the future of the program, Mauti has become the voice for the players and the program as a whole. Penn State could not ask for anything more from a player who has come through the program through so much adversity already.
Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast, managing editor of Nittany Lions Den and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.