It's still early and a lot can happen between now and the start of the season, but I'd like to go on record saying that Denver Broncos rookie QB Matt Mauck is the real deal.
In only his second week of Training Camp the former LSU standout has gone from longshot to serious threat in his battle to dethrone Danny Kanell in the number two slot, behind starter Jake Plummer.
“Mauck has done a good job. Just like all rookie quarterbacks, it takes a while to catch on the system and feel comfortable with it, but he picks things up very quickly, he’s very sharp" said head coach Mike Shanhan. "You can’t say he’s experienced, but with his age, he’s been through more stuff than most guys just coming out of college, so it’s a big plus.”
The plus is the fact that Mauck, who turned twenty-five years old last Feburary, is considerably older and more mature than any of the Broncos 2004 Rookie Class, having spent three-years with the Chicago Cubs organization, advancing to the Class A level as a catcher.
“I think baseball helped me to understand what professional athletics is like, and it is basically, What have you done for me lately?" said Mauck. "You have to produce. That is one thing that has really helped me realize that."
It wasn't until 2000 that Mauck decided to hang up the glove in favor of football, enrolling at Louisianna State University, red shirting as a freshman. From that point on his passion for football took over, culminating in 2003 when Mauck led the Tigers to a share of the national title, setting a school record during his tenure with a .900 winning percentage.
“I have grown up with baseball, high school and amateur baseball, and won a couple state championships. Really, by getting drafted (early) I probably got caught up in the opportunity to play professional sports. But football is my favorite sport and after about two years I really missed it. I realized that that was what I wanted to be doing.”
What he's doing is turning heads, most notably on the Broncos coaching staff, who continue to increase the seventh-round pick's reps with the third-team. Whether or not it's enough to secure his position as Plummer's backup remains to be seen, but in Mauck's case the essentials are there; attitude, ability and execution.
"To tell you the truth, getting selected by the Broncos is really what I wanted to happen. I can’t imagine a better organization than that. I like the city, the way the organization seems to have a lot of class, and that they have had a lot of success."
Does it bother him that after such a successful college career it took seven rounds before he was selected?
“Last time I checked, there are not too many people who get the opportunity to get drafted, so I think that anytime you have an opportunity to play at this level you have to be appreciative of it and not worry about being a third round pick or a fourth round pick. You should just be happy to be a pick at all.”