by Chris Johnson (@chrisdjohnsonn)
Hometown: Malvern, Pennsylvania
Position: Defensive tackle
Star rating: Three-star
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 260 pounds
Other offers: Harvard, Missouri, Princeton, Tulane, Villanova, Yale
What’s to like
Adding skilled defensive linemen to bolster your strength in the trenches is the best way to build any stout defense. The Wildcats did exactly that in landing Mahoney, a 6-4, 260 pound linemen with excellent strength and size. He explodes off the snap and engages offensive linemen below pad level to generate leverage, then drives the opposition into the pocket. He brings great tactical proficiency to go along with superb physical tools. With an imposing blend of agility, strength and size to go along with a high football IQ, Mahoney is a tough assignment for offensive linemen He can line up at end or tackle, but is probably a better fit in the middle given his skill set.
At Malvern Prep (PA), Mahoney earned All-inter-AC honors for his efforts on both sides of the ball. He was an athletic tackle with great instinct and a knack for pulling and trapping to make plays in the second level. With so many young offensive linemen waiting in the wings, Mahoney likely won’t put those skills to use at NU, but it nonetheless speaks to his overall understanding of the game and the ways offenses use extra blockers to make plays. He can harness that knowledge in a positive way on the defensive side of the ball. Mahoney knows how offensive linemen function and can recognize specific blocking schemes; an understanding that allows him to attack the weak points of opposing lines.
Choosing a school with great academics was always a baseline requirement directing his recruitment. He weighed offers from Harvard, Princeton, Yale before deciding NU offered an enticing “combination of big-time football and big-time academics.” Mahoney also attributes his ultimate decision to the relationship he developed with defensive line coach Marty Long. Working with Long over the next 12 months will be crucial for Mahoney as he channels all his time and effort toward the defensive side of the ball and the ways he can prepare himself for the rigors of the college game.
Prospects for next season
The defensive line does not need an infusion of freshman talent, nor is Mahoney physically prepared to take on Big Ten offensive lines this fall. As such, he will redshirt this season. It’s the right move: Mahoney wasn’t going to play this season, so he’s better served saving his eligibility for next season, when he has a better chance to fight for playing time in the DT rotation. Plus, he needs to add some muscle before making a real impact at the next level. Mahoney will have a productive career at NU. He can begin building toward that goal this season with strong performance in the weight room, persistent film study and productive play in scout team workouts. The outlook is bright. It’s just that Mahoney’s time hasn’t quite arrived. If he takes full advantage of the coming year – by developing physically and mentally – Mahoney can surface next season as a valuable rotation player to backup a likely starting tandem of Chance Carter and Will Hampton.
What he’s saying
“I just committed to Northwestern,” Mahoney told Scout.Com last June. “I just talked to coach Fitzgerald and let him know I want to be part of the program. He was really excited about the commitment and very happy to have me as part of the program now.”
What they’re saying
“His production as a defensive end indicates good potential at the next level of play; displays the quickness and playing strength to be disruptive as a pass rusher while dominating against the run” – ESPN Recruiting Nation scouting report.