"Our season went really well," Josh Mauro, a senior TE/DE from Texas' Bell High school, told The Bootleg Wednesday.
"We played really well, [going] 7-3 during the season, and then lost our first playoff game on a trick play with 17 seconds left. Lots of people who saw us said we overachieved because we had relatively little talent. Overall, it was a great season, and we could have gone even further."
Indeed, Hurst, Texas' Bell High School returned just five starters from 2007 and, preseason, a winning record was considered a stretch. But Mauro led the way for the Raiders, racking up 80 tackles and 12 sacks en route to First Team All-Area and Honorable Mention All-State awards.
Next for Mauro is the upcoming adjustment to college-level football. He committed to Stanford in October, and reports he's as solid today as he was then. The decision, he says, was easy.
"It was everything up there," he said. "The coaching staff, the weather, obviously the academics, and academics are really important to me. It's a really good place - Coach D.J. Durkin is a cool guy and I can see him being my coach for the next four or five years."
Mauro held offers from Utah, Boise State, Louisville and Baylor before committing to the Card. But he still had to gain admittance to Stanford, which boasts some of the country's toughest academic standards for prospective student-athletes.
Mauro, who reports a 3.75 GPA and a 1710 SAT, was cautiously confident, but then Coach Jim Harbaugh called Mauro about a week ago with news. "I've been accepted," said Mauro, who tentatively plans to study engineering or architectural design. "It's really a stress reliever; I was kind of worried about it. I had been told I was going to get in, basically, but it was nice hearing that from Coach and that there's nothing holding me back." Perhaps the only person more excited by the admissions news was Mauro's father, Greg.
"I'm proud of the fact that that's where he wanted to go," the senior Mauro said. "I had nothing to do with suggesting it. Of course, I would have loved for him to go there, but I was proud that Josh had the opportunity to play football at a lot of different schools and BCS schools, and that he put the value on the academic and athletic package that Stanford offers. That really just made me proud of him. It really said a lot to me about what his desire is for his future and for his life."
"I sat there, and of all schools that came through, he said, 'Stanford's the one where I want to go,'" Greg Mauro continued. "I didn't say anything to him, but I was proud and shocked. His brother's a quarterback at Northwestern, so we feel very blessed and very excited."
Now, Josh Mauro is planning to make the trip from suburban Dallas to Palo Alto rather soon.
"I'm going up there this weekend, actually," said Mauro. "I already took my official in October (when he committed), but I'm going up there unofficially to meet all the recruits, just hang out and get to see all the coaches again." And though he has yet to step on Stanford's campus since committing to the Card, Mauro reports he's starting to meet his future teammates.
"I talk to [DT] Terrence Stephens quite a bit, almost every day. I talk to [RB] Stepfan Taylor, who's from around here, and I'm still getting to know a lot of the players. I saw a bunch of them on the High School All-Star games, so I know there's some good players going up there."
Though his recruitment is now all but over, Mauro says he wouldn't be opposed to doing a little recruiting of his own this weekend. Anything he can, he says, to strengthen the incoming Stanford class.
"Definitely. I would love for everyone to come up that could," he said. "I know a bunch have already committed, but Coach Harbaugh is saying we'll have 24 or 25 commitments this class. We already have a good class, but more players - that'd be awesome." The bonding isn't just limited to the players, either.
"Shayne Skov's dad does such a great job of being in touch with everybody," Greg Mauro reports. "He pretty regularly sends email and updates out. We actually visited with Stephan Taylor's dad -- I hope things work out with [Stephan's] admission. Josh is texting these guys all the time. I'm excited about the kind of kids he'll get to play with."
On the field, Josh can list off his strengths, both physical and intangible. Physically, the young Texan says he's very explosive off the line of scrimmage, and uses his hands well in achieving separation off the line. But perhaps it's his work ethic he's the proudest of.
"Basically, I just do whatever the team needs me to do," Mauro said. "I kind of shone this year, but even the previous year, I'd always been working hard and doing whatever it takes to be the best I can be. When I'm on the field, I'm always relentless and do whatever for us to win. I just play real intense and that makes me a better football player than someone who takes a play off, who's going to be beat."
While Dad's no scout, unsurprisingly, he's sky-high on his son's potential. "I think he has a great chance to make a big improvement on the football field," said Greg Mauro, who points out that this was Josh's first year at defensive end. "He played linebacker and quarterback before, and so he was a little behind curve compared to kids who got film and ratings off their junior seasons. But as Josh grew and applied himself between his junior and senior years, he set himself up for one heck of a season."
Josh, meanwhile, has just one prediction, one lasting thought for the Cardinal faithful to hear. "The rest of the class and I, we are going to do big things up there," Mauro said.
"We are going to change the Pac-10 around, so get ready for it."
As Josh Mauro continues to make news, along with the rest of a rising 2009 class that has already shaken up the Pac-10's recruiting hierarchy, The Bootleg will proudly continue to report it.
Stay tuned for all the latest and greatest.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!