INDIANAPOLIS - Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien – the scheduled keynote speaker at the 2013 New England Football Coaches Clinic March 8-9 at Gillette Stadium – obviously had an impressive first year at Penn State. The national coach of the year took over a program engulfed in scandal and limited by immense NCAA sanctions, turning bitter lemons into some pretty sweet lemonade.
He also left a lasting mark on his players, including ones who leave the school with just a year spent under his tutelage.
Penn State All-American linebacker Michael Mauti – who's currently recovering from his third torn ACL in the last five years - was asked at the Combine the simple question of what he learned in his time with O'Brien.
"More than I could ever imagine," Mauti said. "How things work in the NFL. How a brilliant pro offense works in different scenarios, different situations. How to play good defense in different games, stuff like that. Matchup issues. So much about football and just about organization and running a program. As well as being a great guy to be around in the locker room, just an awesome person."
O'Brien led Mauti and the rest through what is one of the more unique hurdles any program has had to ever deal with.
"In one of the most unprecedented circumstances, we had a group of guys, our senior class in particular, who just bought in to what we were saying and our message, that we can take it as opportunity, do something special with the season," Mauti said. "A lot of guys bought into that. We had a great leader in coach O'Brien."