TIME TO TURN THE PAGE
CMU seniors lead young Mavs in different ways
They have different ways of showing it, but Colorado Mesa University seniors Trevor Stapp and Matt Mankoff look after the younger offensive linemen on the Mavericks’ football team.
Stapp will often pick on them, smacking them on the head. Mankoff will often give advice, pointing out something that can help.
“They’ve been around forever,” said redshirt freshman Nick Leonard, who lines up between the veteran center and right tackle. “If I have any questions, I’ve got two people I can ask, two really good players backing me up if I ever mess up.
“If they mess up, they blame it on me. Trevor says if he ever messes up, it’s my fault.”
Mankoff and Stapp will suit up Saturday for the final home game of their college careers. The Mavericks (3-6, 3-4 RMAC) host Western State Colorado University (1-8, 1-6) at 1 p.m. at Stocker Stadium.
The offensive linemen are two of 11 seniors who will be recognized before the game.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” Stapp said.
“I’ve had a long career at Mesa, but it’s coming to an end. Time to start a new chapter in my life,” he added with a dramatic tone and sly smile. “I don’t know what the next chapter is, but it’s starting here shortly.”
“It’s definitely in the back of your mind for sure,” Mankoff said. “It’s kind of crazy to think about because you’ve been doing it so long.”
Mankoff and Stapp are two of four seniors on the offense and have the most starts — 78 combined.
Stapp has started all 41 games the Mavericks have played since his redshirt freshman year.
“I think I’ve been blessed and lucky to stay healthy throughout the years,” Stapp said. “I’ve had little injuries here and there, but nothing too major to stop me, at least.”
Stapp came to Mesa as a defensive lineman, but was moved to offense during his freshman year, which he redshirted. He has played all 41 games at right tackle.
Mankoff began his redshirt freshman year as a backup, but injuries thrust him into the starting lineup by the second game of the season. He started all but three games that season.
“I knew I was going to get some time, but I didn’t know it was going to be like that,” Mankoff said.
He has switched from center to left guard to right guard and is back at center this season.
“If you’re going to play all the positions, you’ve got to know all the positions,” Mankoff said. “It’s been fun, playing some center, some left guard, some right guard. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m down to play whatever, as long as I get to hit somebody.”
Mankoff has been durable, too, missing two games since his redshirt freshman year. He sat out last week against CSU-Pueblo with a sprained ankle, but he likely will play Saturday against Western State.
“Those guys have the most experience,” CMU offensive coordinator and line coach Bill O’Boyle said. “I regret not having them for more years, really. Trevor’s been the leader and done a pretty good job with it. I know it’s tough to do as an offensive lineman. Matt’s done a great job with that as well.”
Mankoff and Stapp have taken the leadership role of the young team seriously, even though they handle it differently.
“Trev does a great job of keeping everyone together as a family,” Mankoff said. “He’ll be the first one to give someone crap, but he’s also the first to help. Everybody looks up to Trev.”
“Matthew is a great leader,” Stapp said. “I think the young guys see that and follow his example.
“Austin (Bennett), Nick and (Brett) Boyer are going to be great.”
“It’s been great playing with Matt the past four years,” Stapp said. “He’s been all over the line. He’s stepped in anywhere the coaches needed him.”