Ben is currently teaching high school civics and economics in North Carolina as he finishes his bachelor's degree as a student teacher. He's a good student and taking his student teaching seriously. "It's been a tough job, but I enjoy being around those kids. I'm trying to be someone positive in their lives because some aren't very motivated. I try to talk to them even outside of class time." Ben didn't want to use his celebrity status as a college football player to influence his students, but it was a secret too hard to keep. "I tried to keep it quiet, but some kids found out. Now I even stay after school with some of them and workout throwing the football. My planning period is at lunch time so I also throw in the gym with some of the kids." Ben will finish his actual teaching on April 16th but still is obligated to observe classes for a couple weeks before graduating from Wake Forest in early May, but don't expect him to waste any time in North Carolina. "I graduate on May 3, and I'll be in Cincinnati on May 4. I want to get up there and start getting ready for the season. I think we have a chance to win the national championship. They won 8 games last year and have almost everybody coming back. I couldn't be more excited."
The transfer process will finally be complete when Ben enrolls in classes at UC on May 21, but this young man is too excited to wait until late May to become a Bearcat. "I'll be coming up there on Saturday, March 31 for spring ball. I'm not allowed to practice, but it's my spring break at the high school where I'm student teaching so I'm coming up for a week. I'll get to see practices, meet the guys and the coaches and maybe get a playbook. I'm really excited to get started and get to throw the football again." When informed that Bearcat Insider would be on hand to get his picture, Ben replied, "I better cut my hair."
What makes this transfer so unusual is the fact that Ben has still never met Coach Kelly, and a Big Ten assistant coach recommended Ben look at the Bearcats. "It's kind of funny because I've never actually met Coach Kelly in person, but Coach Hinton (Cincinnati linebacker coach) was one of my coaches in the Big 33 game. Also Mike Elston (Cincinnati's recruiting coordinator) went to St. Mary's, and they were in our conference in high school so he knew of me. When I was looking to transfer, my father who was also my high school coach called a coach he knew at Minnesota that recruited me out of high school. That coach said Cincinnati was looking for a quarterback to run Coach Kelly's new system so my dad called, and UC was interested and offered me a scholarship. I was never allowed to talk to Coach Kelly."
As all Bearcat football fans know by now, Ben began the 2006 season as Wake Forest's starting quarterback but was seriously injured trying to recover a fumble. Ben described the play. "I handed the ball off and was carrying out my fake out when I saw the ball on the ground and took off after it. I dove for the ball and got it with my arm and was trying to pull it into my stomach. Then this player from Syracuse fell on my arm, and it broke my humerous bone in half, dislocated my shoulder and tore my labrum. It was a pretty serous injury." Ben's first surgery was six days after the injury, and he had his second on October 12. Recently Ben visited a doctor in Alabama that repaired an identical injury to Drew Bree's shoulder, and the 6' 1.5"/210 pounder got an optimistic report. "He told me I should be ready to go in another 4-6 weeks."
Although Ben will be coming to a new program, he does already know some of the Cincinnati players. "I know Michael Daniels and Jon Tobin. I played with them in the Big 33 game. Although I know they'll be gone, I also know Bill Poland and Tony Carvitti, and I also know the kicker, Brandon Yingling."
Mauk threw for over 17,000 yards at Kenton High School and helped his team win two Ohio state championships. He's glad to be returning home to an offense that will allow him to once again throw the football. "Cincinnati's a lot closer to home, and Coach Kelly has a great track record of throwing the football. After seeing them play in their bowl game, my heart was set on going." After suffering such a devastating injury, will Mauk be the dual threat quarterback that Kelly's system needs? "Our offense in high school evolved into five wideouts and no backs so the quarterback kind of became the running back. I was basically a running back down here, but I might be cautious at first. If you think about it, my arm had a steel plate in it, and it's not going to break, and my right shoulder will be stronger than my left shoulder. It's not going to be a problem after that first hit."
There has been a lot of talk and speculation about the possibility of Ben getting a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. Ben talked about it. "I might be able to get another year, but that's something I'm going to worry about after the season. I don't think I can even apply for it until after the season, but I do think I have a pretty good case. Everybody at Wake Forest redshirts. Only one guy in my class didn't redshirt so it's not really a choice. That could help me out since it wasn't my decision to redshirt that freshman year. After the season, I think I apply for the medical redshirt year, and a committee hears my case. Some of it will depend on who's on that committee and how strict they are." Ben is hopeful but not overly optimistic he'll get the extra year.
A recent article in the Cincinnati Enquirer made Ben appear extremely confident if not downright arrogant. He replied, "I want to get there early so they know I'm not an arrogant or cocky person. I've never been that way. My parents have always kept me humble. Once everyone gets to know me, they'll see how I really am."
Aside from his football skills, Ben wanted Bearcat fans to know something personal about him, and I couldn't think of a better way to end this article. "They need to know that I'm a big Christian. My faith is most important to me and has helped get me through some difficult situations. That's who I am. It started when I was in the sixth grade and has stayed with me. It's interesting how things have played out with God in my life. Last year I got hurt, but now I have a chance to go back to Ohio and help a team like Cincinnati get a shot at the national championship. Maybe I'll even have two years to play there so He's taken care of me."
What will Ben Mauk bring to the Bearcats audio from Dave Berk