Michael Mauti may not have played his last game in a Penn State uniform.
According to Onward State, Mauti may be able to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. While Nittany Lion fans would love to see No. 42 back at Beaver stadium in 2013, it would be a bad move for the young linebacker.
The senior missed the final game of 2012 after injuring his left knee in the game against Indiana. It was his third knee injury since 2009.
Mauti was given a medical redshirt for the 2009 season after tearing his right ACL. He also missed all but four games in 2011 after tearing his left ACL. Since Mauti played just four games that season, he could file a petition to the NCAA for a second redshirt year, making him eligible for a sixth season in 2013.
Though it seems the petition would have a chance of being granted, that doesn't mean it should be done.
The linebacker has the skills that could transfer well to the NFL. Before the injury, it wasn't impossible to imagine Mauti being a second- or third-round draft pick. He had a strong 2012 season for the Lions, finishing with 95 tackles, three interceptions and two-and-a-half sacks.
Unfortunately, he is now looking at a six-to-nine month recovery period, meaning he won't be ready to work out for NFL teams. While another year at Penn State in 2013 could present an opportunity for Mauti to impress NFL scouts, it would certainly be a risk. Even with the current injury he is sure to be taken by an NFL team next spring. His great career at Penn State should already be enough to get him to the next level.
If he would return to the Nittany Lions, he would be risking further injury without getting a shot in the pros. Three knee injuries will certainly scare some teams away, but four would all but end his chances of being drafted.
At this point, Mauti has not said if he plans to file the petition. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, when asked about it, he stated, “It’s not for me to say right now.”
The thought of having another year as the defensive leader of the Nittany Lions has to be tempting for the emotional captain, and many fans will likely hope he makes that decision. There's no doubt that a healthy Mauti would once again be the star of the Penn State defense.
The biggest problem is that with the three knee injuries in four years, he could be one injury away from being out of football for good.
It's time for him to move on. He had a great collegiate career and really showed his leadership abilities during all the adversity of the 2012 season. That is something that could impress scouts even more than his on-field ability.
Instead of worrying about a return to Happy Valley, Mauti needs to work hard on his rehab and show NFL coaches that he is worth the draft pick.
Returning for a sixth season would not be a smart move.