(WVUE) - Few athletes make it to the professional ranks. Even fewer get to do it with the team they grew up idolizing. Saints linebacker Michael Mauti checks both boxes. And for the former Mandeville Skipper, a season spent in his hometown all came together on one unforgettable play.
With a primetime Thursday night audience looking on, Mauti shot through the punt protection against the Falcons to block a punt and score a touchdown.
"I think that was a little bit more than a jolt," Mauti recalled. "That was an adrenaline rush like I've never had before."
For Mauti, moments like that run a bit deeper than most of his teammates. As a Mandeville native and son of a former Saints player, Rich, Mauti didn't just suit up for the Saints as a player but as a die hard fan as well.
" Our first game was really when it really hit me after the game in the locker room," Mauti said. "I was just hurting after we lost the first game and it really was the first time I had really hurt like that after a lose as a professional. It was different that when I was in Minnesota, obviously I cared about it , but this was I was into it."
The emotions of his first full season with his hometown team have now calmed a bit. Now that the offseason is here his focus is on improvement. So he spends his days at D1 Sports in Covington with specific goals for the season in mind.
"My mindset is I got some good experience last year, got some good games at linebacker. That's kind of my ultimate goal is to be a starting linebacker here. But if that's not the case and I don't get that opportunity then I'll keep doing what I'm doing on special teams," Mauti explained.
He'll return to the field to a team that has clearly pinpointed his position as part of their offseason plans. The Saints added three linebackers in free agency, but Mauti insisted the added players will only make him and his teammates that much better.
"You just control right here. That's why we go to work everyday. That's why we are running here and lifting now, so we are prepared to go compete for jobs.That's what we do as players."