With Stanford defensive end commit Brock Sanders opening up his recruitment due to doubts regarding his admissions prospects, the Cardinal entered the weekend facing the prospect of being short a versatile big athlete with the frame and ability to fill in a need on the defensive front. By the end of the weekend, Stanford had grabbed a fresh new commitment from another high school defensive end/tight end with a big frame that promises growth potential down the line. Visiting for the Homecoming game against Arizona, Hurst (Tex.) L.D. Bell's Josh Mauro quickly pulled the trigger for Stanford and gave his verbal commitment before returning home to Texas on Sunday night.
Mauro's is a relatively new name for Stanford fans eagerly consuming information on Stanford's head-turning 2009 recruiting class, currently ranked by Scout.com as the #12 class in the nation. The 6'6", 235-pound Texan has grown two inches and 30 pounds from his junior season and now plays defensive end and tight end for the Bell Raiders in addition to his old position of wide receiver. As he has grown and gotten off to a strong start in his senior season, Mauro has seen interest in his recruitment pick up. For its part, the Stanford coaching staff had been keenly following his progress since the spring before deciding they had seen enough earlier in the fall.
"They came by in the spring to my school and then I went to a camp this summer," Mauro offers in summarizing the trajectory of Stanford's recruitment of him. "They offered me after the third game of the season and then I went there and visited and committed this last weekend."
Stanford's decision to offer came in the midst of a senior campaign in which Mauro has taken well to defensive end. Through six games this season, he has led Bell to a 5-1 record against Class 5A competition in Texas and claims 40 tackles and 7 sacks as a defensive end to go along with 3 receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown on offense. His statistics are a product of playing time on both sides of the ball, depending on the situation. "I play the whole game on defense and I go in to play tight end in certain situations, especially in the red zone," he explains.
His performance had started to open the eyes of college recruiters. Boise State and Utah were the first colleges to offer scholarships and were soon followed by Stanford and Louisville. In addition to that quartet, the big bodied Mauro has received interest from Northwestern, Baylor, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Nebraska, and Texas Tech.
Armed with those four offers and rising interest from other suitors, Mauro trekked out to Palo Alto this weekend to visit Stanford, a school he had previously indicated a high interest in. The trip proved enough to convince Mauro to make his decision before even touching back down in the Lone Star State.
"It was really good," he confirms. "I got to learn a lot more about all the academic resources and I already knew a lot about the football team. It was a really good experience up there getting to meet everybody and I committed yesterday, [Sunday]."
"They have a really good coaching staff and there are other opportunities there to go be a part of and be successful," Mauro continues in listing factors that led him to his commitment. "And the fact that it's a great environment to be around."
While the newest Stanford commit identifies his future team beating Arizona on the last drive as the highlight of the weekend and recalls that moment as "pretty awesome," a few other aspects of the weekend also stood out for him. In particular, the trip afforded Mauro the opportunity to meet one of the greatest football players of all time and to spend time with one of Stanford's most prominent commits in the 2009 class.
"I went up with my dad but while we were up there I met Jerry Rice and his son," he says when asked who he watched Stanford's victory with. "They were up there watching the game. So that was pretty cool. The tight end, Levine [Toilolo], who committed up there - he's a cool guy, too. I got to hang out with him for a little bit."
Another feature of the weekend Mauro emphasizes is the chance to get a more personal side of some of the academic offerings and instructors that await on The Farm as well as a chance to just get a sense of the surroundings and people on the team.
"I met a lot of the professors for classes that I'm interested in," he notes. "Then we just toured the campus and hung out with some of the players on Saturday night."
The discussion with one professor in particular resonated with Mauro given his current academic interests.
"I'm interested in architectural design right now," he offers. "I met the architectural design professor and he talked about the course a little bit."
With a clear interest in the academic offerings of his future college destination, Mauro brings an obvious emphasis on academics in addition to football. His transcript reflects his seriousness in the classroom and is dotted with high level courses throughout his high school career: AP Physics, pre-AP Calculus, AP Economics, AP English, AP Computer Science. Even while loading up on difficult classes the past three years, Mauro maintained his grade point average and reports a 3.75 or 3.76 GPA. As a senior, he is modest about his current current class list but acknowledges that he is still excelling in the classroom.
"It's going really well," Mauro shares. "I've been doing well through high school. This year my classes are a little bit easier than they have been but I'm still getting straight As in all my classes."
As he prepares for the reading of his application by Stanford Admissions, he has also taken the SAT twice, saying "I got a 1620 the first time and I just retook it and I'll get that score in about a week or two."
While he waits for that score, Mauro is preparing to submit his application to Stanford.
"I've already started filling out my application," he reveals. "I'm about finished and I will turn that in and then they're going to see if I get admitted or not."
If Mauro is indeed admitted to Stanford, the Cardinal figure to be getting a big athlete with room for further growth in a tall frame and experience on both sides of the ball. For his part, however, Mauro sees no ambiguity in how Stanford envisions him fitting in.
"I'm going to play defensive end up there and [Defensive Ends] Coach [D.J.] Durkin wants me to be ready to play when I get up there next fall," the recruit says. "He wants me to be able to contribute right away. If I'm not going to be able to play next year, then I'll redshirt."
With 7 sacks and 40 tackles already in 6 games this season against top Texas competition, Mauro has provided some indication of his ability on defense. When asked to describe his playing style, he says "I'm just relentless to the ball and go all out every play, just work hard." In turn, he relates that "Coach Durkin just likes how I use my hands as a D end and how I come off the ball."
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