A knee injury may have clouded his NFL prospects, but outside linebacker Michael Mauti said he did not suffer a torn ACL when he went down in Penn State's next-to-last game on Nov. 17.
That is one reason why one of the most important figures in recent Penn State football history is confident he has a future in the NFL.
I'll be back playing football, there's no doubt in my mind, he said. It's just a matter of getting the opportunity at the next level.
Mauti's injury history is the one thing that may make teams wary of drafting him. He already had torn the ACL in each knee before he injured his left knee in the first half of Penn State's 45-22 win over Indiana.
Coach Bill O'Brien and Mauti had declined to talk about specifics of the injury, but the 6-foot-2, 232-pounder told the Tribune-Review he did not suffer a third ACL tear after getting cut blocked by an Indiana running back.
I just had to get (the left knee) cleaned up a little bit, and I'll be good in a couple of months, said Mauti, who already is rehabbing the knee and could be strong enough to work out for NFL teams in advance of the draft. Just a little extra adversity. You've just got to bounce back, and I'm confident I will.
Mauti is something of an authority when it comes to working through adversity.
He and other seniors helped keep Penn State together after the NCAA levied sanctions against the football program in July and allowed players to transfer without penalty.
Mauti's flinty stare and clenched jaw made him the face of Penn State resolve, and he did more than help prevent a mass exodus in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Mauti had an All-American caliber season - the fifth-year senior recorded 96 tackles and intercepted three passes - and his relentless play helped Penn State (8-4) exceed expectations.
There had been speculation Mauti might petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility due to medical hardship, but he said he never considered it.
I've had my time, and it would be unfair to the younger guys for me to stay, Mauti said. It's just really time for me to move on with my career.
The Louisiana native is expected to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February where teams will have the chance to interview Mauti and give him a physical.
He'll be fine, said Penn State running back Mike Zordich, who will train with Mauti in New Orleans. Right now it's just taking care of the little things.