Atonio Mafi described getting drafted by the Patriots as a “full circle” second.
The rookie offensive lineman is from San Mateo, California, which can also be Tom Brady’s hometown.
Mafi performed highschool soccer at Brady’s alma mater, Junipero Serra. The varsity’s soccer stadium is called after Brady and his household. The legendary quarterback’s title was “in every single place” on the faculty, and he would sometimes want the staff luck through FaceTime earlier than large video games, Mafi stated.
Though he lived greater than 3,000 miles away on the time, Mafi grew up a Patriots fan due to Brady’s connection to San Mateo.
“Clearly, the largest factor was seeing a child from San Mateo, the place I’m from, profitable that a lot,” Mafi stated. “It was nice to see the Patriots win a lot and win so many Tremendous Bowls, however the largest factor for us was seeing a child from California doing this yr after yr, and even into his outdated age. That was the good factor.”
Junipero Serra has an extended listing of well-known sports activities alums, together with Brady, legendary MLB slugger Barry Bonds, four-time Tremendous Bowl champ Lynn Swann, and three-time Professional Bowl left deal with David Bakhtiari.
However, Mafi loved different points of the college too, such because the music packages.
“My highschool was an all guys Catholic faculty, so it was a distinct vibe,” Mafi stated. “My faculty was actually large for soccer, basketball, and different sports activities like that. However, like, the creator of “Excessive Faculty Musical” [Peter Barsocchini] went to our faculty too, so we had actually good arts and theater. I used to be a part of the choir too, I used to be a part of males’s refrain after I was in highschool. Our college was good in a number of sides.”
Mafi, 23, had but to show two-years-old when Brady gained his first Tremendous Bowl with the Patriots. New England was a full-on dynasty by the point Mafi was sufficiently old to comply with the sport.
“By the point I used to be sufficiently old to know soccer and sit there and watch a whole sport and perceive what was happening, that was peak TB12,” Mafi stated.
Brady’s closing season with the Patriots got here throughout Mafi’s sophomore yr at UCLA. Mafi started his school profession as a defensive lineman, however switched to offensive guard and ultimately developed right into a second-team All-Pac 12 choice at his new place. He tied UCLA’s faculty document for many video games performed .
The Patriots introduced Mafi to Foxborough for a pre-draft go to, and he stated the second that caught out essentially the most was when he met coach Invoice Belichick.
“It was simply surreal assembly Invoice Belichick for the primary time,” Mafi stated. “I couldn’t even bear in mind what he was saying that first time. I used to be simply actually shell shocked. That’s what it was like.”
The Patriots drafted Mafi within the fifth spherical of the 2023 NFL Draft. He was one in every of three offensive linemen chosen, together with heart Jake Andrews and guard Sidy Sow.
“He’s superior. I really like Mafi to loss of life,” Sow stated. “All three of us got here in, and it’s sort of scary being on a brand new staff, however a man like him has such an open coronary heart from the start. He made it really easy to create a connection, I feel for me, and for Jake. Going via this complete course of and sharing this complete expertise has been sort of cool.”
Mafi began in 4 of the Patriots’ first six video games this season. His taking part in time dipped for some time through the center of the season, however he’s gotten extra snaps lately after Cole Unusual was positioned on injured reserve.
“All three rookies, with Mafi included, from their work ethic and that standpoint have executed a terrific job coming in,” offensive lineman David Andrews stated. “As a veteran you wish to see guys are available, work onerous, and attempt to do the correct issues. Clearly, they’re rookies and so they’re attempting to determine it out in a number of other ways.”
“So, I admire all three of them,” Andrews added. “I got here in with two different guys too as a rookie, so it’s good to have a bunch that you simply’re going via it with. I got here in with Trey Jackson and Shaq Mason, so I loved having these guys. We may at all times hang around with one another, bounce issues off of one another, and attempt to assist one another.”
Mafi has come a great distance from San Mateo. He stated taking part in for the Patriots is one thing he doesn’t take without any consideration.
“Undoubtedly surreal, positively grateful for it day-after-day,” Mafi stated. “There’s a lot historical past right here, and I perceive my position proper now as a rookie. Simply attempting to do proper by those that got here earlier than and present day-after-day that I need to be right here.”
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