The days of Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti beating a sledge hammer against a truck tire, as sweat dripped down his face and arms, are nearly over. The Nittany Lions senior used that exercise as one of many he performed during his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he sustained last September.
This time around, Mauti is ready to go. And he needs to be.
Mauti and fellow linebacker Gerald Hodges, both on the Butkus Award watch list, figure to be forces on a defense that has some work ahead of it. Indeed, in this season of change - a new coaching staff, a new outlook, a new era at Beaver Stadium - the Nittany Lions will need absolutely all they can get from their seasoned leaders.
''All we can focus on is what we're focusing on, and that's coming to work every day, ignoring everything that's going on outside,'' Mauti said. ''Whether it's good or bad.''