After three seasons of playing the label of defensive end, which includes 36 appearances and 20 starts, senior Lorenzo Mauldin is now an outside linebacker.
Fulfilling the role of a linebacker comes with added responsibility for Mauldin. While some players may hesitate of making such a change - especially in their final year of college ball - Mauldin quickly accepted the challenge and is driven to succeed in the role.
As one of the player representatives at last months' ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., Mauldin sat down to visit with the media and made a statement before taking a question.
“First off, I want to say that I'm moving from the defensive end position to the outside linebacker position under Todd Grantham’s defensive scheme in a 3-4 pro style,” he said, continuing on before ending by saying that he loves the change.
Grantham, the Cardinal's defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach, likes the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder's drive to succeed.
“Lorenzo is a guy who has a lot of energy on the field,” he said. “He's a guy that wants to become a really good player as a linebacker. We are going to continue to do the things that he does well and let a guy like that effect the game the best way he can.”
He'll still rush the quarterback in most situations, but at times will be asked to cover a tight end in pass coverage. To do so, Mauldin needs to learn how to read the opposing offense and anticipate the coming situation.
“Being an outside linebacker is great,” he said. “I get to read more offensive schemes and I get to line up against a tight end and drop back into coverage. It's fun. Playing defensive end you don't really know what you are going to get, you just have to adjust to it. Being able to know what's going to happen now, before it happens, is great.
Mauldin, who adds that part of his goal is “to confuse a lot offenses,” spends time in both the defensive line and outside linebacker team meetings to help him craft his new role.
“When it comes to pass rush, I hang out in the defensive line room, but to learn my coverages and stuff, I'll be in the outside linebackers room,” he explained. “It's fun because you learn different stuff.”
A second team All-Conference selection in 2013, Mauldin is the team's leading returner among a number of statistical categories. Most notable are his 9.5 sacks, which ranked 25th in the nation last season. His 12 tackles for a loss and 3 forced fumbles is also tops among the returning vets.
The opportunity to snag his first career interception in pass coverage is something he hopes to experience, but getting a good first step and around the edge to the quarterback remains his focus.
“If I get a pick that would be a great thing,” he said with a laugh. “This year I want to get into double-digit sacks. I've been saying that since I've been here and last year I was close with 9.5. If I can get a sack each game, that's what I'm looking forward to.”