L.D. Bell’s Josh Mauro and Stanford have grown into a contender

Posted Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Many would have laughed at senior Josh Mauro if he had recited his collegiate goals before his freshman year at Stanford.

Mauro, who had been a force on the defensive line for Hurst L.D. Bell, had faith that his recruiting class could help turn The Cardinal around. He and the other freshman even mentioned the Rose Bowl, a stretch for a team that had finished 5-7 the season before.

“We were recruited on faith,” Mauro said. “Our whole class talked about the Rose Bowl. It was a little bit of premature talk for us, high school talk among recruits. But we really thought we could come in and work together. Coach (Jim) Harbaugh at the time had something good set up here. Andrew Luck was also a big recruiting point for everyone. We hadn’t seen him play, but we had heard a lot about him.”

Even though Stanford took a hit last week with an upset loss on the road at Utah, Mauro and his senior teammates have still accomplished their goal. Stanford has become a consistent team in the rankings, reaching No. 5 before the loss to Utah. Stanford won the Pac-12 last year and won the Rose Bowl, 20-14 against Wisconsin.

“It’s been special to be a part of it,” Mauro said. “Working hard has been our calling card. We have the best coaches, the best strength and conditioning coach, and it took all of the guys coming out with the same mind-set to get better every day. I’ll never forget this, and I have zero regrets for coming to play here.

“We expected to be a good football team, but I think we all exceeded what we thought we could do. We haven’t turned back. We’ve kept taking steps forward.”

Mauro has 25 tackles this year, 19 solo, to go with three sacks and a forced fumble. Against Arizona State, he made the first interception of his career and returned it 25 yards.

“One of our linebackers got really good pressure, and the quarterback threw the ball right to me,” Mauro said. “I was shocked. I don’t think I took a breath when I got the ball. I don’t think I’ve had a ball in my hands in a game since high school. I just wish I would have breathed and run a little better.”

“It’s a lot of fun being out there with 10 other guys who are going to do their jobs and play at an extremely high level. It makes it easier for all of us. Our defense doesn’t go make plays individually. The other offense dictates who makes the play.”

Mauro and No. 13 Stanford still have a chance to claim the Pac-12 this season, starting with Saturday’s showdown against No. 9 UCLA. Stanford will also get a shot at No. 2 Oregon on Nov. 7, a Thursday-night showcase on ESPN.

The week following the Oregon game, Stanford will face rival USC. Even out west, Mauro, who once faced Euless Trinity yearly, can’t get away from rivalry with the Trojans. Mauro still keeps up with Bell’s games. His brother played for the Blue Raiders before graduating last year, and Mauro visits the campus and coaches when he’s back home.

Mauro plans to pursue a football career as long as he can. After that, he says whatever he does, he plans to be competitive and do his best.

First, however, come the Bruins.

Games of the week

No. 9 UCLA at No. 13 Stanford (2:30 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/Ch. 8, ESPN2): Stanford (5-1, 3-1 Pac-12) stumbled last week on the road against Utah, losing 27-21 in one of the biggest upsets of the year so far. But there will be no time for self pity for The Cardinal. UCLA (5-0, 2-0 Pac 12) has surged into the Top 10 and can keep climbing with a win this week. A win for the Bruins would set up a massive showdown next week at Oregon. Stanford is fighting to stay in the BCS picture.

Iowa at No. 4 Ohio State (2:30 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/Ch. 8, ESPN2): Even though Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) hasn’t lost a game since Urban Meyer took over as head coach before last season, pressure is still on the Buckeyes to win big to prove themselves. With Alabama the clear top-ranked team and no one else close to No. 2 Oregon at the moment, Ohio State will need dominant wins to climb the BCS rankings. Meanwhile, Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) is getting back to playing tradition Hawkeye football, giving up just 16.8 points a game and rushing for 207.5 a game.

No. 6 LSU at Ole Miss (6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN 2): Sure, LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC) should defeat the Rebels (3-3, 1-3 SEC), but strange things happen in this rivalry game. Ole Miss started the season on a hot streak before losing three straight to Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M. But LSU’s defense has played poorly at times this season, especially on the road. And Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has many experienced receivers who will test the Tigers’ young secondary. This one could mirror last week’s showdown between Ole Miss and A&M, a 41-38 thrilled that was decided by a field goal as time expired.

No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson (7 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/Ch. 8): The Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 ACC), led by redshirt freshman quarterback sensation Jameis Winston, go on the road to play at Clemson (6-0, 4-0 ACC) in a game that will impact the race for the final BCS National Title. Strangely Florida State opened as a favorite in the game, even though Clemson is ranked higher, has a QB with big-game experience in senior Tajh Boyd, and has a big home-field advantage. But, the Seminoles have had two weeks off after beating Maryland 63-0, and Clemson struggled a bit to defeat Boston College 24-14 last week.

Numbers

304 Rushing yards for Army running back Terry Baggett last week in a 50-25 win against Eastern Michigan. Baggett had four touchdowns and became the first Army player to top 300 rushing yards in a single game. He leads an Army attack that has rushed for 2,466 yards (352.3 a game) to lead the nation.

16 Total touchdowns for UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, including a special performance against Utah in which he became the first Bruin in the record books to throw for a score, rush for a score and catch a touchdown pass in the same game. The Bruins, led By Hundley, who had 428 total yards of offense in a 37-10 win against Cal last week, take on Stanford in one of this weekend’s top games.

Quotable

“He looks like a full-grown man to me.” — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who become a Heisman contender as a redshirt freshman. Clemson will meet Florida State this weekend in a Top-5 matchup that will shape the ACC and BCS race.

“I’ve been asked too many times already. Last year’s game? Last week’s game? Our game? Their game? Doesn’t have anything to do with this game.” — Alabama coach Nick Saban on playing Arkansas Saturday. Saban opened his Wednesday news conference talking about Arkansas’ tough rushing attack before making sure to quell any possible questions about any game that has already been completed.

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