More and more locals are getting excited about Bearcat football, and one of the reasons is a transfer quarterback from Wake Forest. Bearcat Insider recently spoke to Ben Mauk about his becoming a Bearcat.
The much heralded quarterback from Kenton High
School, where he set many Ohio and national high school passing records
and won two Division IV state championships, has returned to the Buckeye state,
and Ben Mauk couldn't be happier about the change in scenery. "I've been watching our receivers catch
and run their routes, and I'm really excited about this year. I haven't been this excited about a
season since high school. I can't
wait to put on the pads and get out there."
The kid that threw for 6,540 yards and 76 scores during his senior season
is already taking classes at the University of Cincinnati. "I started classes May 7th so
I've been here for a while. I'm
taking 12 hours in order to be eligible next fall. I'm in the distance learning program
which is on-line."
Ohio's 2002 Mr. Football
is living off campus with a couple of high school friends who work in the
With ten starts at Wake Forest, Mauk brings experience into the
2007 Bearcat quarterback battle with incumbent Dustin Grutza, but there are
still some lingering questions about Ben's health. "Things are getting better. The biggest thing for me right now is to
keep getting that shoulder stronger.
The range of motion is back, and the challenge is getting the muscles
around the shoulder stronger. I
need to keep throwing as much as I can."
As Ben's shoulder continues to heal, he admits it can be frustrating at
times. "Right now it's a little
discouraging for me because I can't throw the way I want to. I'll go out there and watch or just warm
my arm up." Bob Mangine, Cincinnati's athletic
trainer, is apparently optimistic about Ben's full recovery. "I was talking to Bob the other day, and
he doesn't feel it will be too much longer. I still have a little ways to go, but
I'll definitely be ready when camp starts."
Enrolled as a full time student, Ben has begun working out with his new
teammates. "Yes, I started working
out with the team last week." This
recent development is important not only to rehab his shoulder but also to meet
the new teammates he hopes to lead onto the field on Thursday, August 30 against
S. E. Missouri
State. "I think it's a situation that could be
very difficult, but everybody on the team seems to have accepted me. Getting to met everyone has really been
a pretty easy transition. I was
down in North Carolina for four years, and you
very seldom ran into anyone from Ohio.
I've been excited about meeting all the guys on the team, and so many of
them are from Ohio so I feel we have a bond being from the
There can easily be tension when a player of Mauk's
magnitude enters a program, but Ben's feels one of his competitors has been
particularly welcoming. "The
quarterbacks all workout at the same time and run at the same time. One of the quarterbacks that has kind of
taken me under his wing and talks to me all the time is Tony Pike, and I really
appreciate that. But they've all
been friendly and cordial. If we
have good chemistry at quarterback, it will transfer around to the other
positions and create good team chemistry."
Practice won't start until August, but Ben has been addressing the mental
as well as the physical preparation.
"I have a playbook and have been studying it. Coach Kelly and I have gone over things,
and having my classes on-line has made things nice. I can do my classwork any time I want so
I can be available for therapy or in the weightroom or watching
At Kenton High
School, Ben was coached by his father who also ran a
spread offense. Ben feels that
experience will help him make a quicker transition to understanding Coach
Kelly's complex attack. "Everybody
runs somewhat similar things so the biggest thing is learning the
terminology. That's what I'm trying
to learn now. Once I get that, I'll
learn where Coach Kelly wants me to go with the ball and getting the reads. My whole life I've grown up throwing the
football. From fourth grade to my
twelfth grade year, we were in a five wide, no back set so it's something I've
done before." Ben will also draw
upon his time at Wake Forest to help him with the running part
of Coach Kelly's offense.
"Everything in the playbook is something I either did in high school or
Forest. The run game is similar to what
Forest tries to do so I've
been in similar situations."
Ben's father, Mike, still coaches at Kenton and even he has been curious
about Coach Kelly's versatile offense.
"He's been asking me about Coach Kelly's offense. He's always trying to learn new things
and improve his philosophy."
When asked to compare his style of play with another quarterback Bearcats
fans would know, Ben replied. "I
think my biggest asset is I try to play with a lot of toughness. I never give up on a play. I try to make something happen. Brady Quinn is a quarterback that can
stand out there like John Elway and make a really nice throw. I would consider myself to be more like
a Doug Flutie or Fran Tarkenton. I
might be able to make a play when it seems like nothing is there. I've been able to use my legs in the
past, but I'm going to do whatever Coach Kelly wants me to do."
As Ben learns the Cincinnati area, he's found a few restaurants
he particularly likes. "One place I
was excited to find was The Cheesecake Factory on exit 11 of I-71. I've been over there a couple times
already in the couple weeks I've been here. That's my favorite restaurant. I also had Mac's Pizza for the first
time the other day, and it was my first time at Chipotle's too."
When the quarterback battle heats up in early August, Bearcat Insider
will be on hand to give our members all the latest information.