UNIVERSITY PARK - Michael Mauti knows Penn State football. And Penn State football knows Michael Mauti.
The senior linebacker comes from a long line of former Penn State players. Mauti and his older brother, Patrick (2005-09) combined with their father, Rich, to join a long line of father-son tandems to play at Penn State over the past 50 years.
Mauti was all over the field in 2011 - making plays and causing havoc in the initial three games of last season.
Sentinel photo by STEVE?MANUEL
Tight end Garry Gilliam, center, tries to get past linebacker Gerald Hodges (6) and cornerback Stephon Morris during a Media Day workout at Penn State Thursday.
In those three contests, Mauti recorded 21 tackles, with three tackles for loss, one interception and three pass breakups. He had a career-high 13 tackles against No. 2 Alabama. Then, against Eastern Michigan, it ended abruptly.
Mauti tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, sidelining him for the remainder of the season. A sure-fire All-Big Ten selection would have to wait another year.
That year has come. And after playing only three games a year ago with standout Gerald Hodges, the duo is back and ready to work.
"We're excited to just get out there and show the fans and the Penn State people that we're ready to go," Mauti said.
With the recent NCAA sanctions levied against the program, there was concern to whether or not Mauti would return for his senior season and keep the tradition of Linebacker U alive. But thankfully for Penn State players and fans alike, there was no hesitation.
"There was not even a second thought," he said. "This is where my bloodline is and there was no way I could leave those guys and those coaches."
One of those guys he would be leaving was Hodges. Hodges, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2011, will be reunited with Mauti to form one of the most dangerous linebacking corps in all of college football.
Combined, the duo recorded 24 tackles against Alabama. But that was only a stepping stone to where this group can be. And don't forget to add in Glenn Carson, who will round out the trio and make this defense an explosive one, Hodges said.
When future NFL stars Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman were at Penn State, the duo had a difficult time getting on the field together because of injuries. That's how Hodges feels about the situation between himself and Mauti. But once they get together, it could be something special.
"It's a great feeling for everyone to be healthy," Hodges said. "When (Lee and Bowman) had a chance to play together it was special. That's how I feel with me and (Mauti)."
Hodges, like Mauti, didn't have have hesitation when it came to staying at the school he committed to.
"This is where I came to play football and it's where I'll end my career," he said. "This is my family. Every time I come to the stadium people are cheering my name - people I've never even met before."
Mauti's ACL injury was a tough one for him to deal with. The senior worked very hard to get back to where he is both physically and mentally. At every game last season, Mauti had a headset on with his No. 42 jersey around his chest.
But the injury is no longer a concern.
"It's behind me 100 percent," he said. "I feel good."
When Hodges and Mauti lace it up on Sept. 1 against Ohio University, it will be 49 weeks since the tandem saw the field together. The duo's return to the field promises to be special.