***This story originally was posted in March, thought it appropriate to repost with his success this season***
“He’s got a really strong arm, one of the strongest arms I’ve ever seen coming out of high school as a freshman quarterback,” said wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. With his skilled arm, Mauk managed to break national high school records in passing yards (18,932), pass completions (1,353) and touchdown passes (219). Although the initial praise went to his arm, his teammates did not overlook his legs. His ability to run helped Mauk rack up 22,681 yards of total offense – also a national record- as a dual threat quarterback in high school. “He’s fast, he’s quick, he makes good reads. I think he can be unstoppable,” said offensive lineman Evan Boehm.
Teammates say fierce competitiveness is the intangible characteristic facilitating Mauk as a candidate for the starting spot. Boehm recalled a day at the Mizzou Recreational Fields this past summer. “We were just messing around playing football with random kids. When we lost, Maty was so mad, like ‘What the-!? Why did we lose this game?!” When asked if this combative behavior was the typical trait of a quarterback, his teammates all said it’s just a typical trait of Maty.
“Even when we’re playing X-box” began Boehm, “And I get a kill on him (and I’m not very good), he gets so angry. His competitiveness comes out. That’s what makes him a good quarterback, always competing, always wanting to do his best.”
Mauk’s inspiration to be the best at anything comes from someone amidst a fight much tougher than the fight to be a starting quarterback of a football team. His driving force comes from someone who has neither a quarter of the arm strength he displays at practice nor the leg strength to even stand. Mauk met Drey Dearing when he was in first grade. Mauk was a manager for his father’s football team in Kenton, OH while Drey hung out on the sidelines as a very young, honorary member of the team. Mauk says this is the last time he remembers Drey being active and still having the ability to run around.
Drey has muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that weakens muscle strength. Before Drey reached his teens, he completely lost his leg strength and was conformed to a wheel chair. By the time Drey reaches his early twenties, he will be fighting for his life.
“Growing up, me and all my best friends looked after him,” said Mauk. “I’d do anything for that kid. That’s what drives me.”
“Once Maty gets to talking about Drey you can tell it means a lot to him,” said Boehm. “I’ve never seen him talk or care about one person the way he does for that kid.”
Drey is now a sophomore at Kenton High School. Although he and Maty are separated by hundreds of miles, Maty keeps Drey around Missouri in the form of a t-shirt. A picture of the two is plastered on the front while a bible verse is typed on the back.
Shortly after the end of Missouri’s final loss to Texas A&M, the conclusion of a lackluster, non-bowl eligible season, Mauk got a call from home saying Drey’s health was getting bad. Drey had already broken his legs twice and was beginning to have trouble eating because of his lack of strength. Mauk made arrangements to go back to Kenton a week before Mizzou’s scheduled winter break.
Back in Kenton, aside from hanging out and playing video games, Mauk said he drove Drey to and from school, brought him lunch and sometimes spent the night at his house. “I did whatever he wanted to do.”
“Maty’s break was not a comfortable retreat” said his roommate and wide receiver Levi Copelin. “I gained a lot of respect for him. Drey is like his brother. When his brother wasn’t doing well, Maty was the first person to be there for him.”
Gary Pinkel, who participates in Coaches to Cure Muscular Dystrophy each football season, says Mauk has a lot of compassion. “He’s got a good heart, a big heart. He won’t forget that guy and go on. He’ll be friends with him forever.”
Mauk says he looks forward to the Black and Gold game to not only display the progress he’s made in the quarterback competition but because he will have Drey as extra motivation in the stands. Drey will aid in Mauk’s fight for the starting spot similar to the way Mauk has helped Drey in his own physical battle.
“Ever since I’ve known him, I’ve wished I could’ve traded him places” said Mauk. “He’s always been the biggest fan of mine and I’m a big fan of his.”