Mau (Masefau, American Samoa / Fagaitua HS) is the seventh Gardner-Webb student-athlete to earn the preseason Defensive Player of the Year honor – but the first since linebacker Marty Patterson in 2010.
The 6-foot-2, 318-pound senior – a 2015 National Defensive Player of the Year candidate and preseason All-American by STATS – totaled 11 first-place votes and 29 points.
He earned postseason All-America honors from Phil Steele (2013) and College Sporting News (2014) over the past two seasons, and was a finalist for the 2014 Buck Buchanan Award as a junior.
Mau was the lynchpin for a defense that ranked No. 5 nationally as a sophomore in 2013, and last season posted a career-high 60 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks from his spot in the middle of the trenches. He forced a career-best two fumbles and had a 27-yard fumble return in the season finale. Mau also blocked a field goal for the first time in his career in 2014.
In 2014, 82 percent of Mau’s tackles came on run plays. He had double figures stops in wins over both Wofford and Charlotte, and collected a season-best 3.0 tackles for loss in the season opener on the road at Furman.
Mau has totaled 20.5 career tackles for loss and burst onto the scene as a first-year starter in 2013.
Finishing behind Mau in the voting were Liberty’s Chima Uzowihe (four first-place votes and 11 points), Charleston Southern’s Aaron Brown (three first-place votes and 11 points) and Presbyterian College’s Ed Britt (three first-place votes and nine points).
Mau, a sociology major, is on track to graduate one semester early in December 2015.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs report for preseason camp on Friday, August 7 and will hold their first practice on Saturday, August 8.
The season opener is set for September 5 at 6:00 pm (ET) in Mobile, Ala., against South Alabama. The Runnin’ Bulldogs and Jaguars’ tilt will be shown live on ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com) from historic Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Gardner-Webb’s Big South Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Selections
2003 – Mario Williams, Safety (Ninety Six, S.C.)
2004 – Mario Williams, Safety (Ninety Six, S.C.)
2007 – Brian Johnston, Defensive End (San Diego, Calif.)
2008 – Mario Brown, Linebacker (Greenville, S.C.)
2009 – Jeffery Williams, Linebacker (Frisco City, Ala.)
2010 – Marty Patterson, Linebacker (Mt. Airy, Ga.)
2015 – OJ Mau, Nose Guard (Masefau, American Samoa)