Stansly Maponga possessed all the attributes that make coaches drool. He has the coveted quickness for defensive end, and at 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, the former Lewisville Hebron High star has the body type defensive coordinators crave.
But after winning the starting job in August, question marks still remained for Maponga, who was tasked with replacing TCU All-American Jerry Hughes, who was selected in the first round of last spring's NFL draft.
"The first game [against Oregon State this season] I was kind of nervous, because people know Jerry, and people were like, ‘who’s this dude?’ But I grew into it and the game got slower and it will keep on getting slower. And it will be like second nature."
But for much of the season, Maponga played like a veteran, not a first-year starter.
He has 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks and will start against Wisconsin Saturday in the Rose Bowl.
"The hardest thing was probably covering the running backs," he said. "I’ve got to get out of my stance and try to see where they go."
Maponga hopes, with a season under his belt, he’ll be able improve on his initial season in 2011.
“I’m not going to put any numbers on [how many sacks he’ll strive for], but I’m going to work hard and do what the coaches want me to do, and the sacks will come,” he said.
-- Stefan Stevenson