Michael Maietti was a heaven-sent acquisition when he arrived to campus last season. As a player who had started 33 games at Rutgers, his experience was coveted by a Missouri team who, simply put, didn’t have a lot of known commodities. Missouri was a perfect fit for him since Rutgers was going through a coaching transition and had been scuttling at the bottom of the B1G since they had been acquired by the conference. From the moment he arrived on campus he elevated himself to the starting spot at center and was a force across the offensive line in 2020. That, on its own, would be impressive enough but realize this: Maietti didn’t commit to Missouri until late April after spring practice had already been cancelled.
When Drinkwitz began advocating for seniors to return for another year, Maietti was at the top of his list. He recognized the impact of what Jersey Mike did for the 2020 offensive line and was attempting to establish some continuity for the 2021 season.
Drinkwitz is publicly lobbying for graduate transfer center Mike Maietti to return for another year of eligibility in 2021.— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) December 8, 2020
Oh, and he wasn’t the only one. The guy who relied on the competency of Maietti the most, Connor Bazelak, was also openly requesting for Maietti to run it back one more time:
Connor Bazelak said he's been part of Drinkwitz's efforts to get Mike Maietti, a graduate transfer center from Rutgers, to come back for another season. "We're winning games. He didn't get to do that much at Rutgers. ... If he wants to win, then come back."— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) December 8, 2020
The lobbying from coaches, teammates and fans alike clearly worked:
Players, especially this year, have plenty of motivations for coming back to school for another year. In Maietti’s case, I think multiple reasons motivated him to return for 2021.
- Being the starter at Rutgers doesn’t give you a lot of chances to win games and the opportunity to be part of a winning program is attractive. For context, in 2020, Maietti played in five victories for Missouri; at Rutgers - in three years of playing (‘17-’19) - he played in seven total victories.
- Michael Maietti simply wants to improve his NFL draft stock.
He’s not often discussed as an NFL prospect, but Maietti has a lot of the tools that teams in the NFL covet.
He plays with good pad level, has excellent technique and impressive foot speed. He’ll never convince the world he’s a track star, but I was really impressed watching him move to the second level of the defense. He moves on from combo blocks pretty quickly and efficiently. There’s a level of nastiness that he plays with that is kind of fun to see. He WANTS to finish blocks. Aside from the actual on-field product he puts out, Maietti has been hailed as a leader going back to his time at Rutgers and, more impressively, has started 43 consecutive games heading into 2021. Your best ability is availability.
That said, there is room for improvement. He is a bit light (291lbs), and will need to add muscle. Maietti is probably better suited for a zone blocking scheme due to some of those size concerns that exist. He also has a tendency to lean forward with his upper body.
All in all, Maietti has been a nice piece to add to the team over the past couple years, and is a really good college player. He has the potential to have an excellent super senior season, and with that could shoot up draft boards as a result. It’s simply going to be about adding little things to his game in addition to adding muscle mass. If he can do those two things, there’s no doubt he can be in the NFL for a long time.
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