Ben Mauk's Getting Ready

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 Queen City.


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 same state."


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 film."


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 at Wake Forest.  The run game is similar to what Wake 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.

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