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Buccaneers’ Cody Mauch went from FCS walk-on to NFL starter

Buccaneers’ Cody Mauch went from FCS walk-on to NFL starter
Mar 5, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch (OL30) during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

TAMPA, Fla. (BVM) – Cody Mauch underwent a body transformation that altered the trajectory of his life. Now, he’s the starting right guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a rookie.

After playing nine-man high school football in Hankinson, North Dakota and setting program records for both career touchdowns and sacks, Mauch walked on at North Dakota State as a 220-pound tight end. He quickly bulked up and morphed into a 300-pound left tackle who started 39 consecutive games (37 at left tackle, two at right tackle) over his final three seasons with the Bison.

During that span, the 6-foot-5, 302-pound Mauch became a two-time All-American, a three-time national champion and the FCS Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2022. His natural athleticism, explosive abilities as a puller and aggressive style of play led to Tampa Bay making a draft-day maneuver to secure his services.

Scheduled to make the 50th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers “weren’t content to stand put and hope their targeted player made it to that spot.” General manager Jason Licht sent one of Tampa Bay’s three sixth-round picks (No. 179 overall) to the Green Bay Packers to move up to No. 48 overall and select Mauch.

Less than four months later, Mauch is listed as the starting right guard on the Buccaneers’ first official depth chart released on Tuesday.

It’s been an impressive journey for a young man who grew up on a 5,500-acre farm in southeast North Dakota. Mauch would wake up early on the weekends during his childhood to drive tractors, bail hay and help grow soybeans, corn and sugar beets.

It was around this age – during a seventh-grade basketball game – that Mauch had his two front teeth knocked out. He will not have them replaced until his football tenure is over, making his smile a constant reminder of his competitive nature.

From walking on at North Dakota State with zero offers as a 220-pound tight end to gaining 80-plus pounds and dominating on the offensive line before being selected in the second round of the NFL draft, Mauch is already making the most of his opportunity in Tampa Bay.