HOOVER, Alabama – His hair was full and combed. His beard was thick and neat. He wore his Southeastern Conference Eastern Division championship ring on his right hand. His bowtie was gold with black dots.
Maty Mauk said he decided on a bowtie for SEC Media Days after attending the wedding of his Missouri quarterback predecessor, James Franklin, earlier this summer.
“I keep looking down and feel like I’m missing a tie,” Missouri’s sophomore quarterback said of his neckwear choice as he charmed the media.
Mauk said he doesn’t like attention, but he was poised and polished in Hoover Wednesday, arriving at SEC Media Days as the starting quarterback for a Mizzou team that has more preseason buzz surrounding it than either of the prior SEC Missouri Tiger teams.
The sophomore told the media that the offseason has been crazy. He said the Tigers are committed — Snapchats of 3 a.m. weightlifting sessions-level committed — and that he’s refined his skills by learning from his three-game stint as Mizzou’s starter after Franklin went down with a shoulder injury.
“(The starting stint) did a lot,” Mauk said. “Especially from a standpoint of settling the game down. I’m not out there managing the game anymore. This is an explosive offense that can put points on the board. It really slowed the offense, so it’s like I’m back in high school almost.”
Mauk set the national record for career passing yards, pass completions, total offense and passing touchdowns in a high school career.
Mauk said he’s worked on refining his throwing motion — more hips, less arm — and timing his dropbacks. He wants to be like former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel — on the field, not off it.
He recently returned from working as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, where he talked shop with NFL brothers Peyton and Eli Manning about huddle presence and leadership skills.
“I learned more in three days than I learned in a while,” Mauk said.
Junior center Evan Boehm isn’t quite sure what to expect of his quarterback this season. But Boehm said he feels that with one group of elite SEC quarterbacks gone from the college ranks — Manziel, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray — Mauk is next in line.
“I feel like Maty Mauk will surprise everyone, every week,” Boehm said. “With a different thing, with a different technique. Something that you’ve never seen from Maty. Whether good, whether bad. It’s going to be 100 percent every time. I feel like Maty will surprise you every week with what he does.”
And Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he thinks he’s got “a very natural leader.”
“The players know it,” Pinkel said of Mauk’s leadership. “He’s ‘The Guy’ now, and I guarantee you there’s no one more excited than that guy.”
Other Tiger Tidbits
—Mauk said he thinks former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is a NFL Draft first round pick.
—Boehm told the media he was in favor of the new College Football Playoff. He said he thought it was possible that both teams in an SEC championship game could be selected for the four-team playoff, despite the loser’s late season defeat.
—Senior defensive end Markus Golden, the third Mizzou player in Hoover on Wednesday, said what made Missouri successful in its second year in the SEC was “a mix of confidence, getting comfortable and just believing in yourself. In the first year we had a bunch of injuries but last year we were healthy, so it’s about being healthy and competing. At Mizzou, we believe we can compete against anybody, and last year that’s what we were able to do. We’re going to try and do the same thing this year.”
—One of Boehm’s interview sessions with the media ended with questions about his thoughts on student-athlete amateurism and possible NCAA reform. He was far from picketing for the change.
“We get a lot of things,” Boehm said. “We get school paid for. We get a nutritionist. We get food. I feel like we get it pretty good right now.”
—Asked what he thought about coaches who have voiced health concerns for players due to fast-paced offenses, Pinkel said those concerns were “fiction,” and that he’s never had a member of his staff express such thoughts.