O’Brien earns AT&T ESPN Coach of the Year, Mauti named All-American

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has been selected national Coach of the Year and senior linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La) has been named to the AT&T ESPN All-America Team.

O’Brien’s selection and the AT&T ESPN All-America Team were announced Saturday (Dec. 8) on ABC.

In his first year as head coach of the Nittany Lions, O’Brien is a finalist for three national coach of the year honors: the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and the Maxwell Football Club’s Collegiate Coach of the Year. O’Brien also is on the Watch List for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year.

The first-year Nittany Lion mentor also was named the Big Ten’s Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media) and Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches). He was just the seventh first-year head coach to earn the Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year in the 41 years it has been awarded.

Mauti was joined on the AT&T ESPN All-America Team by: Khaseem Greene (Rutgers), Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Manti Te’o (Notre Dame).

Mauti was selected the Big Ten’s 2012 Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year, helping Penn State to a conference-high five Big Ten individual awards. He also was a first-team all-conference choice by the coaches and media. 

A co-captain, Mauti earned the first Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year honor for "LinebackerU." in its second year of being presented. The award is named after Dick Butkus (Illinois) and Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern). Mauti and Fitzgerald were coached by Ron Vanderlinden, who has been the Penn State linebackers coach since 2001.

A semifinalist for the Butkus Award, Mauti was the only Big Ten player ranked in the top 10 in the conference in tackles (7th, 96), interceptions (4th, 3) and forced fumbles (3rd, 3). He also led the Big Ten in interception return yards (125). Mauti had 4.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks (minus-25), three interceptions, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two pass break-ups. The former Mandeville High School standout started the initial 11 games, suffering a knee injury in the first quarter vs. Indiana on Nov. 17 that ended his season.

Named Penn State’s 15th head football coach on January 6, 2012, O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to victories in eight of their final 10 games, earning an 8-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten, with the only losses coming to division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. In its final game, Penn State beat eventual Big Ten Champion Wisconsin, 24-21, in overtime. O’Brien’s eight wins are the most by a first-year Penn State coach in the 126 years of the program.

Penn State reeled off five consecutive victories after an 0-2 start, as O’Brien tied George Hoskins (1892) and Dick Harlow (1915) for the most consecutive wins by a first-year Nittany Lion coach. Penn State also won its initial three Big Ten road games, making O’Brien just the fifth Big ten coach since 1950 to win his first three conference away contests.

O’Brien engineered a dynamic, fast-paced offense that featured the Big Ten’s passing leader (Matt McGloin), top receiver (Allen Robinson) and a running back (Zach Zwinak) who gained 100 yards six times in eight Big Ten games and 1,000 yards for the season. Penn State led the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference games and was second in scoring offense (32.6 ppg) and second in pass offense (283.1 ypg) against Big Ten foes this season.

O’Brien came to Penn State after five years on the New England Patriots’ coaching staff, serving as the quarterbacks coach from 2009-11 and as offensive coordinator last year in helping the Patriots to the AFC Championship and a berth Super Bowl XLVI. O’Brien began his coaching career at his alma mater, Brown University, in 1993-94. He then coached at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06) before joining Bill Belichick’s New England staff.

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