Proper Priorities

The new leader on the defense for the defending high school national champions, Vinnie Mauro knows what it takes to be a good leader and defender. The question now is whether Mauro will be leading a defense or defending his country.

MADISON - Once in awhile, a high school player comes along that his mature beyond his years and knows what his priorities.

St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Vinnie Mauro is one of those cases.

A highly productive middle linebacker, Mauro (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) is the unquestioned leader of the defense for the Florida 5A State Champion Raiders, leading St. Thomas in tackles as a junior with 54 total tackles, including 8.5 for loss, during the 10-game regular season.

Putting up those kinds of numbers, Mauro has been sought after by Florida International and Wisconsin (his two scholarship offers) and getting interest from Boston College, Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State to name a few.

But even with all these powerhouse schools after him, Mauro still has a dream to proudly serve his country.

"Navy has been a favorite of mine for a long time because it's been a dream of mine to be a navy seal or a naval aviator," Mauro said. "I've always thought serving my country was an honorable thing. I went to their camp last summer and it really increased my interest. I would like to somewhere different and experience something new."

Whether Mauro, who attended Florida, Florida International and Miami's spring games this year, is headed into the service remains to be seen. One thing Mauro does know that is that the Badgers, 2009 commit Conor O'Neill and Coach Partridge are all recruiting him hard.

"Conor is one of my real good friends and he's told me a lot about Wisconsin and what he loves about the program," Mauro said. "Same with Coach Partridge. He is such a nice guy to talk to. He's down to earth, honest and makes you want to play for him. I am going to try and visit this summer."

Although he doesn't have the lighting speed like some of the other top-ranked linebackers, Mauro is physical between the tackles and has a nose for getting to the ball carrier, a big reason he led Aquinas in tackles during his junior season.

"It's so helpful going against talented players everyday in practice," Mauro said. "Even though we lost a lot of great players, we have a young team that is really talented and can be just as good as last year."

In addition to possessing the size and ability between the sidelines to make him a solid Big Ten linebacker, Mauro has seen his leadership skills grown by studying under O'Neill. O'Neill, Aquinas' team captain last season, not only led by example on the field, but taught him what it takes to run a defense, something Mauro is hoping to do at the next level.

"Conor helped me so much and it came just by listening to him in the huddle," Mauro said. "With him going to Wisconsin, I've asserted myself as a leader going into next season and I hope to do it as well as he did."

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