COLUMBIA, Mo. – Growing up in Ohio, Maty Mauk stood on the sideline at Kenton High School watching older brother Ben star at quarterback while father Mike coached the Wildcats to consecutive state championships in 2001 and 2002.
Football ran in the family, and Maty jumped right in. At Kenton with his dad still the coach, he broke national prep records in passing yards (18,932), touchdown passes (219), completions (1,353) and total offense (22,681).
The gaudy numbers led to a scholarship to play quarterback at Missouri, where Mauk hoped he would have the opportunity to play in pressure situations. Last Saturday would probably qualify as one, when the redshirt freshman trotted unexpectedly onto the field with a two-point lead in the fourth quarter at Georgia.
Mike Mauk says he wasn't nervous as he watched from the stands of Sanford Stadium with his wife, Gwyn, and nearly 93,000 others. He wasn't surprised, either, when his son and protege led two touchdown drives to stave off the Bulldogs' comeback and win 41-26.
"It's something that ever since he's been a young kid starting to play athletics — you enjoy competition, you enjoy playing against the best," said Mike Mauk, who with his wife travels to all of the Tigers' games. "That's what competitors enjoy doing."
Maty Mauk figures to be involved in more of these situations as he leads No. 14 Missouri (6-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) into its game Saturday against No. 22 Florida (4-2, 3-1) in place of James Franklin, who sprained his right shoulder at Georgia and is out for at least three weeks. At 6 feet and 200 pounds, Mauk gives up 2 inches and 30 pounds to Franklin, but he likes to run, so he says don't expect anything different in the team's play calling.
"Last year, I kind of struggled," Mauk said. "I didn't know as much. But now I know that playbook like the back of my hand, man."
He'll be surrounded by a physically and statistically healthy offense, one that's producing 45.7 points and 515.7 yards per game. Mauk started practicing with the first string this week after taking "mental reps" with it all season.
Teammates told him to just be confident in himself and to not try to do too much. Even former Missouri quarterback and current Kansas City Chiefs backup Chase Daniel requested Mauk's phone number to pass along some advice.
"He's probably going to make some mistakes like all kids do," coach Gary Pinkel said. "But the big thing is you don't want him to be a robot out there. You want him to do what he does and play quarterback the way he plays quarterback."
Quarterbacks coach Andy Hill said not much fazes Mauk, who has a "cool demeanor" that likely arose out of the trials and successes he went through in high school. Occasionally, however, that attitude can lead him astray.
In just his first few weeks on campus in August 2012, police arrested Mauk on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident on a scooter. Mike Mauk said that incident turned into a growing opportunity for his son, who communicates with his parents almost daily.
Regardless, the elder Mauk says he's proud of Maty and everything he's been able to accomplish since the day he was born. That's why the quarterback's parents still make every effort to watch their son play, and will do so again — this time with older brother Ben — Saturday in Columbia.
"He likes people, enjoys being around people," Mike Mauk said. "And sometimes, maybe he's got his guard down too much. But at the same time, I think he's learned some things and situations that have occurred that have helped make him a better person. That's what most of us go through in our lives."