Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gardner-Webb Nose Guard OJ Mau Earns First-Team Spot on 2015 STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team

NORTHBROOK, Ill. – Gardner-Webb nose guard OJ Mau was named to the first-team defense on the 2015 STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team released Thursday.

Mau (Masefau, American Samoa / Fagaitua HS) was one of four Big South Conference student-athletes chosen to the first team and one of seven Big South student-athletes overall selected.

The 6-foot-2, 315-pound senior enters his final campaign in Boiling Springs with a chance to become the first defensive lineman in program history to earn All-America honors three times during a career. Only Hall of Fame defensive back Eric Brewton (1986-1988) and quarterback Jeremy Martin (2000-2002) have earned All-America recognition in three or more seasons.

Mau earned postseason All-America honors from Phil Steele (2013) and College Sporting News (2014) over the past two seasons. He was a finalist for the 2014 Buck Buchanan Award as a junior and was the lynchpin for a defense that ranked No. 5 nationally as a sophomore in 2013. He earned preseason FCS All-America honors from several outlets prior to the 2014 season.

The 2015 honor from STATS is the second for Mau this summer. He was named to the Athlon preseason FCS All-America Team in June.

Last season, Mau 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 also 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.

Not surprisingly, 82 percent of Mau’s tackles came on run plays in 2014. He had double figures stops in wins over both Wofford (9/20) and Charlotte (10/4) and collected a season-best 3.0 tackles for loss in the season opener vs. Furman.

Over the past two seasons, Mau has helped anchor a defensive unit that limited nine of its opponents to less than 100 yards rushing – five times in 2013 and four times in 2014. He has totaled 20.5 career tackles for loss and burst onto the scene as a first-year starter in 2013.

That sophomore season, Mau finished with 54 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss and a career-best 4.0 sacks.

Gardner-Webb returns 15 players with starting experience to its defense for the 2015 season, headlined by Mau and All-Big South Conference linebackers Tanner Burch (6-3, 250, R-Sr.), Aaron Cook (6-1, 225, Jr.) and Chad Geter (6-2, 239, R-Jr.). All-Conference cornerback Ivan Toomer (6-0, 205, R-Sr.) returns to anchor the secondary.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs open the season on Saturday, September 5 at South Alabama. Kickoff is set for 6:00 pm Eastern in historic Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. (ESPN3).