Boye Mafe was relaxed and smiling as he took his seat near the center of a table in Hopkins’ Lindbergh Center, enjoying the moment as he was introduced alongside 11 other Hopkins athletes set to make their college choice official.
Mafe, a 6-3, 220-pound defensive end whose broad shoulders, narrow waist and high-end athleticism make him look like he stepped right out of Central Casting, had waited until Tuesday evening to make his commitment. It was then he announced that he had selected Minnesota over Rutgers. He chose the energy of P.J. Fleck and the calm demeanor of new Gophers’ defensive line coach Bryce Paup over a hard-sell from former Gophers’ coach Jerry Kill, now the offense coordinator at the State University of New Jersey.
“It was too much for me to try to make a decision right away,” said Mafe, referring to his choice to delay his commitment. “I wanted to wait and go through the entire process. Once I made my decision, I wanted to be comfortable with it. If I had made my decision earlier, I wouldn’t have given every school a chance and I think it was important to give every school a chance.”
Mafe acknowledged that the last few days had gotten pretty hectic. At one point, Fleck and Kill both visited Mafe on the same day at Hopkins, although not quite at the same time.
“Yeah, there were here on the same day, but they missed each other by about five minutes,” Mafe recalled. “That was kind of a whirlwind day, but everybody handled it pretty good.”
While impressed with Fleck’s contagious energy, Mafe said it was the influence of Paup that won him over.
“In the interviews, you could tell coach Fleck was very energetic,” Mafe said. “But I got to meet coach Paup and that’s really what sold me. I liked his calming manner and his coaching style. You can learn from him.”